Chasing the Flame

The UN assumes the important role of international conflicts and refugee aid, but I didn't know much about UN's activities and efforts. I only know it through TV news or newspapers.

This book is the biography of Sergio Vieira de Mello who was killed at the Canal Hotel Bombing in 2003 while working as the Secretary-General's Special Representative in Iraq. The author is Samantha Power, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer.

Sergio was born in Brazil as a son of Brazilian diplomat in 1948. He studied philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris. At that time, he joined the 1968 student riots in Paris. I'm in the same generation (a little bit younger than him). In Japan many students riots broke out through the country just like in Paris as well.

In 1969, he found a job in Geneve as a French editor at offices of UNHCR because of his superiority in language ability. Since then, he worked and was involved with many difficult international conflicts, in Rwanda, Lebanon, Cambodia, Yugoslavia, Kosovo and East Timor etc., as a key person in UNHCR and UN. He also worked with Ms. Sadako Ogata and Mr. Yasushi Akashi. (The author didn't evaluate Mr. Akashi highly in this book.)

In August 2003, he was killed with 14 other staffs of his by an al-Qaeda suicide bombing at Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq. He was expected as a likely candidate for UN Secretary-General after Koffi Annan.

He always learned in fields and worked boldly, bravely, creatively and freely. He charmed many people in negotiations.

He became my hero by this book. This book is not only his biography but also an excellent textbook about the significance and limitations of UN. This Chasing The Flame is the most powerful book that I've read for past two years. I highly recommend this.


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