Drawing upon extensive sources and interviews with Washington's top policy-makers, Former UN Ambassador Samantha Power tells the story of American indifference and courage in the face of the worst massacres of the 20th century. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
... [an] important book, a superb piece of reporting which cumulatively grows into a major political work, part polemic, part moral philosophy ... Each case is examined in brutally exhaustive detail, almost defying the reader to proceed without a sense of collective guilt at the consequences of inaction, not just from the US, her central target, but among its supposedly civilised Western allies ... Amid her righteous anger, Power unwittingly allies herself with the neo-conservatives now calling the shots in Washington, with such apparent influence on our own moral crusader of a Prime Minister. Many of her arguments are uncomfortably unilateralist; she does not specifically say so, but they tend towards the kind of intervention which recently took place in Iraq, if too late and for all the wrong reasons ... Power's book makes a major contribution to that debate and is required reading for anyone inclined to take part.
Power expertly documents American passivity in the face of Turkey's Armenian genocide, the Khmer Rouge's systematic murder of more than a million Cambodians, the Iraqi regime's gassing of its Kurdish population, the Bosnian Serbian Army's butchery of unarmed Muslims and the Rwandan Hutu militias' slaughter of some 800,000 Tutsi. This vivid and gripping work of American history doubles as a prosecutor's brief: time and again, Power recounts, although the United States had the knowledge and the means to stop genocide abroad, it has not acted ... Power gives us a Washington that is vibrant, complex and refreshingly human. Within it, she finds an unlikely, bipartisan collection of men and women whose courage and moral commitment she admires ... The same Washington, of course, is a place of defeatism, inertia, selfishness and cowardice.
Though clearly imbued with a sense of outrage, Power is judicious in her portraits of those who opposed intervention, and keenly aware of the perils and costs of military action. Her indictment of U.S. policy is therefore all the more damning.