Backstabbing for Beginners: My Crash Course in International Diplomacy

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Nation Books, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 345 pages
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The year is 1997, Michael Soussan, a fresh-faced young graduate takes up a new job at the U.N.’s Oil-for-Food Program, the largest humanitarian operation in the organization’s history. His mission is to help Iraqi civilians survive the devastating impact of economic sanctions that were imposed following the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

As a gaffe-prone novice in a world of sensitive taboos, Soussan struggles to negotiate the increasing paranoia of his incomprehensible boss and the inner workings of one of the world’s notoriously complex bureaucracies. But as he learns more about the vast sums of money flowing through the program, it becomes clear that all is not what it seems. Soussan becomes aware that Saddam Hussein is extracting illegal kickbacks, a discovery that sets him on a collision course with the organization‘s leadership. On March 8, 2004, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed editorial, Soussan becomes the first insider to call for “an independent investigation” of the U.N.’s dealings with Saddam Hussein. One week later, a humiliated Kofi Annan appointed Paul Volcker to lead a team of sixty international investigators, whose findings resulted in hundreds of prosecutions in multiple countries, many of which are still ongoing.

Backstabbing for Beginners is at once a witty tale of one man’s political coming of age, and a stinging indictment of the hypocrisy that prevailed at the heart of one of the world’s most idealistic institutions.

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User Review  - danoomistmatiste - LibraryThing

Very P G Wodehouseesque. The author can be termed opportunistic to have delivered this tragi-comedy out of something that would be prevelent only in a country like Nigeria. What this work brings out ... Read full review

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User Review  - Carlie - LibraryThing

Starting out his tenure at the United Nations, Soussan was an optimistic young man who wanted to make the world a better place. He was on the team that got the Oil-for-Food program up and running ... Read full review

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About the author (2010)

Michael Soussan has written for numerous publications, including the Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, and the International Herald Tribune. He currently teaches at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs and lives in New York City.

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