Books! Black helicopters?! Um, No.

I doubt this book will be the most popular entry for Cannonball Read, but I’m counting it as one of my 52. Get over it.

Of course everyone wants to know all there is to know about the United Nations. Or rather, I wish more people knew more about the UN. The United Nations by Sven Bernhard Gareis is called an introductory textbook, but it is pretty hefty and goes into incredible detail about the major UN functions. However, the chapters on peacekeeping and reform are good introductions to those topics. The chapters on collective security are a bit of slog and could use with some editing and reorganization.

The author reiterates throughout that the failings and successes of the UN fall squarely on the shoulders of the states that make it up. Without the member states, especially the P5, there is no UN. There is a tendency for students to judge the UN as an entity without considering that its failings cannot be easily separated from the actions of states. The actions we take in the US have a direct effect on the efficacy of the UN as an institution.

The book would be great for someone teaching an entire class on the United Nations or International Organizations as the chapters can easily be separated out for class readings. I definitely recommend for higher level courses though and not as an introductory text. For the individual reader, be sure you have a strong interest in the functioning of the UN. You will need it.

But! If when you think of the UN all you think about are black helicopters or Ahmadinejad denying the Holocaust, then this probably a book you should put on your list. At least read the introduction. Please.