FDR and the Creation of the U.N.

Townsend Hoopes, Author, Douglas G. Brinkley, Author, Douglas G. Brinkley, Joint Author Yale University Press $50 (304p) ISBN 978-0-300-06930-3
Never does the adage ""The past is prologue"" seem more apt than while reading this account of the creation of the United Nations. The modest successes and the severe limitations of the world's peacekeeping institution can be traced back to the 1945 charter, as well as to the politics that caused the charter to read as it does. Unlike their earlier, hefty biography of defense secretary James Forrestal (Driven Patriot), this volume is a narrowly focused, relatively brief account of the United Nations. The limited scope makes sense, especially in light of Stanley Meisler's recently published history, United Nations: The First Fifty Years. Hoopes, affiliated with the University of Maryland faculty, used to work within the U.S. government's foreign policy bureaucracy, and his insider's knowledge has informed all his books. Brinkley is a history professor at the University of New Orleans and author of an earlier biography of Dean Acheson, who plays a role in the current volume. But Franklin Delano Roosevelt is almost always center stage. He had viewed up-close the failure of the League of Nations, the dream of President Woodrow Wilson after WWI. Roosevelt vowed during WWII that if he could spur creation of a second peacekeeping institution, he would be far more practical than Wilson had been. Hoopes and Brinkley let the saga unfold chronologically, ending their main text with ratification of the United Nations charter in June 1945. (The 17-page epilogue does a cursory job of bringing the story up to date.) Hoopes and Brinkley are avid supporters of the United Nations, and their history shows why it makes sense to be avid about such a flawed institution: it is unlikely that anything more effective will surface. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/24/1997
Release date: 03/01/1997
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