The U.N. for Beginners
Writers and Readers Publishing, Inc. $11.00
Fifty years of the United Nations condensed into 150 pages.
This is not an in-depth study of the U.N. The book describes, simply and briefly, the purpose and structure of the U.N. as well as its more noteworthy failures and accomplishments -- including, directly or indirectly, nine Nobel Peace Prizes. This would be a good reference book for a history, civics, or other social studies class, about 8th grade level. It is easy to read and understand, and is entertaining in its selection of information, factoids, and satirical cartoons and illustrations (most common is a befuddled dove carrying a wilted olive branch). The author ought to have kept in mind that with unfamiliar material (for Beginners, remember) even light and gentle sarcasm can mislead.
The U.N. for Beginners is part of a series called "Documentary Comic Books." The list of titles covers such diverse topics as Freud, Black History, Hemingway, Judaism, computers, and much more, all "for Beginners."
A shorter version of this review originally appeared in the March 17, 1996 edition of The Roanoke Times.