William Shawcross is an international correspondent and broadcaster. His articles have appeared in the Independent, the Guardian, the Sunday Telegraph, the Sunday Times, International Herald Tribune and Newsweek. His many books include THE QUALITY OF MERCY: Cambodia, Holocaust and Modern Conscience (1984) THESHAH'S LAST RIDE: The Story of the Exile, Misadventures and Death of the Emperor (1989) and RUPERT MURDOCH: The Making of a Media Empire (1992).
The end of the Cold War may have reduced the threat of nuclear catastrophe, but shooting wars continued to ravage the planet throughout the '90s. Shawcross (Sideshow, Murdoch, etc.), an award-winning journalist, takes inventory of a decade's worth of conflict, ranging from Cambodia to Rwanda, Croatia to East Timor, and assesses the reactions of governments, the U.N. and humanitarian agencies to the carnage. The book proceeds chronologically, treating several crises in each chapter. In this way, Shawcross replicates the experience of those responsible for organizing the world's response to these fast-breaking, vicious little wars as they broke out, often simultaneously, all around the world. More significant than Shawcross's chronicle of these conflicts and their respective atrocities is his analysis of the ambiguities and paradoxes produced by the wars. He identifies the political forces shaping how the world selects some crises for effective intervention, while others merit platitudes and palliatives. Shawcross also explores how in some instances humanitarian aid, such as food shipments, serve only to supply the combatants and so prolong the suffering of the starving people for whom the food was intended. He gives evidence that while nations claim to rely on the U.N. as a peacekeeping mechanism, they withhold funds and complain of U.N. ineffectiveness. As Shawcross argues in this thoughtful and balanced account, we in the developed world "want more to be put right, but we are prepared to sacrifice less." Shawcross calls for greater consistency in how the developed nations react to '90s-style ethnic wars, so that nations can do something better than merely make the world "a little less horrible." In surveying the past 10 years, he makes a clear-sighted contribution to the policy debates of the next decade and beyond. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
'Shawcross is quite simply one of the best reporters of his generation' DAILY MAIL 'Shawcross stands as the foremost journalist of his generation... this is an admirable book by an admirable man' IRISH TIMES 'Shawcross has written a firsthand and readable account of the dramas in which the UN has been involved recently' NEW STATESMAN