Chasing The Flame by Samantha Power

Chasing the Flame

Chasing The Flame is a biography of Sergio de Mello, the UN’s leading diplomat for the protection of refugees and civilians. He served as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for his first 25 years at the UN and then served as UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan’s special representative.

The book explores the life of Sergio Vieira de Mello, who worked for the UN before his death in Iraq in 2003. Power draws on extensive research, including 400 interviews, to show us a heroic figure and the conflicts he waded into, from Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge to the slaughter in Bosnia to the war-torn Middle East.

The book highlights the intertwinings of success and failure in Sergio’s life and how his personal evolution paralleled that of the United Nations. It also sheds light on the contradictions and failures of the institution he so loyally served.

The book argues that the United Nations is often unfairly blamed for failures to protect the vulnerable or deter aggression when the real failure is that of the great powers standing behind it. Power makes the case for powerful countries like the United States putting much greater effort into making the institution work.

What I Liked

I love that this book exists. It’s a powerful reminder that there are so many people committed to making the world work who don’t get credit, fame, or money. They just do it because it’s the right thing to do. It’s also a reminder that peace does not happen naturally. It takes work, time, care, and commitment.

What I Did Not Like

Nothing – brilliant biography.

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