The misuse of the UN machinery by the great powers for their own purposes, the writer says, is evidence among others of the growing pains that the world organisation has experienced since its creation some 50 years ago and that are still manifest.
In the political area, its promising beginnings have only exceptionally met the expectations of our generation. Bernt Bernander has extensive inside experience of working for the UN during the peace-keeping operations in the Congo and in Cyprus during the 1960s; he coordinated the international humanitarian effort in Iraq, Cambodia and Mozambique during the peace-keeping operations there. In Iraq he was the first UN head representative in Baghdad after the Gulf war in 1991.
He has also carried out important mission assignments in other perennial trouble spots. For 25 years he served with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as its field representative in West New Guinea, Zaire, Ethiopia and South-east Asia.
He ended his career with UNDP as one of its Assistant Administrators, with responsibility for all project implementation carried out directly by UNDP. In a highly personalized memoir Bernander tells of his boyhood in Zimbabwe, his student years in Gothenburg, Sweden, of people he has met and of his experiences in the service of the United Nations.
These accounts, expressing at times controversial viewpoints, are interlaced with reporting from his stint as foreign editor of a Gothenburg daily 1958-62 and with essay type features.