Academic journal article Naval War College Review

The Parliament of Man: The Past, Present, and Future of the United Nations

Academic journal article Naval War College Review

The Parliament of Man: The Past, Present, and Future of the United Nations

Article excerpt

Kennedy, Paul. The Parliament of Man: The Past, Present, and Future of the United Nations. New York: Random House, 2006. 384pp. $26.95

An institution as central to the contemporary world's political and geostrategic landscape as the United Nations is constantly in need of thoughtful, scholarly attention. Paul Kennedy delivers just this with The Parliament of Man. Kennedy, the author of The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers and Grand Strategies in War and Peace, approves of the idea of the UN but is not blind to its failings. He believes that "since this is the only world organization that we possess, we need to make it work in the best way possible, in order to help humankind navigate our present turbulent century." Consequently, while the book is mostly historical, a consistent tone of apology runs along with the narrative. It is a story, Kennedy writes, of "evolution, metamorphosis, and experiment, of failure and success," but a story that is ultimately justified.

A solid introductory chapter traces the deepest roots of the UN back to post-Napoleonic Europe, but Kennedy very naturally spends most of his time examining events in the wake of World War I. Here Kennedy rehearses the prehistory of the UN from the advent of its predecessor, the League of Nations, through that organization's failures and the consequent outbreak of World War II. While this chapter contains little in the way of new information or startling revelations, it is well written, succinct, and peppered with insights. …

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