cover image A Life in Peace and War

A Life in Peace and War

Brian Urquhart. HarperCollins Publishers, $25 (390pp) ISBN 978-0-06-015840-8

Former Under Secretary-General of the United Nations (and author of a highly regarded biography of Dag Hammarskjold), Urquhart has written an informative, incisive, and very readable account of his peacekeeping assignments from the earliest days of the UN until his retirement last year, an account that includes a clear explanation of how the organization works and where it has failed. His portraits of Hammarskjold and Kurt Waldheim are of particular interest. A profound admirer of the former, his appraisal of Waldheim is scathing. Urquhart served as a British intelligence officer during World War II and strongly opposed Operation ""Market Garden,'' which turned out to be a major disaster. His inability to do anything to prevent it colored his view of the world ever after and gives the main body of his illustrated memoir a special poignancy. For all that, A Life in Peace and War is often very funny. It is certainly beautifully written. (September 30)