The biography of international mediator and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Ralph Bunche. Bunche is portrayed as an inspiring leader who had a profound impact on Arab-Israeli relations and contributed to the peace process around the world. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Urquhart's respectful but revealing life of the African American political scientist and UN diplomat is timely for a variety of reasons. Not least is the central role Bunche played in establishing--in the crisis atmosphere of the international organization's first decades--definitions of the nature and functions of UN peacekeeping forces, definitions only now being called into question by "new world disorder" conflicts in Cambodia, Somalia, and the former Yugoslavia. Urquhart, Bunche's chief assistant at the UN, 1954-1971, describes Bunche's itinerant childhood, academic background, teaching and research, OSS service in World War II, significant contributions at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference of Allied leaders, and troubleshooting and mediation on behalf of the UN throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Drawing heavily from his subject's personal papers as well as the support and recollections of the Bunche family, Urquhart has made a fascinating narrative of the accomplishments of an American-born international diplomat whose behavior convinced even his critics of the sincerity of the "driving passion for peace, for justice, and for human decency and dignity" that Bunche's last boss, Secretary General U Thant, remarked in him.