Backstabbing for Beginners
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Backstabbing for Beginners : My Crash Course in International Diplomacy

By (author) Michael Soussan

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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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  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 144.78 x 226.06 x 25.4mm | 362.87g
  • 17 Jun 2010
  • Avalon Publishing Group
  • Nation Books
  • New York
  • English
  • First Trade Paper ed
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1568584415
  • 9781568584416
  • 324,835

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Author Information

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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Review quote

"[Michael Soussan's] tale is one of a profound institutional corruption, infinitely more significant than that of any single individual. The next time you hear anyone mention the United Nations and moral authority in the same sentence, tell them to read this book." -Sunday Times "Fascinating... [an] excellent source of information about corruption among leading participatory nations and the UN itself [and] an important revelatory work." -The Morning Star"

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