TLC online Book Tours and New York University Press sent me another gem of a read. CAPITAL OF THE WORLD is a history book that is a well written, interesting and fun read as the author endeavors to document the story of finding the right spot for the United Nations. The fine-tuned details help to guide the reader through the maze of concept to fruition of this huge International/ Global project as World War II was winding down and the League of Nations was closing its doors in Geneva.
Charlene Mires the author has a knack for finding the little stories behind the big promotions and they truly bring this study the interesting steps that different groups took to promote their locations and their hopes – even before the first representatives decided on a continent and that decision took several years and a number of places tried on for size.
I so enjoyed the full story of the Choctaw Indians of Oklahoma making a claim for the return of their Nations prominence by promoting their reservation as the center of the Global world; they would have their dignity and respect renewed. It was a very touching presentation to consider and made me think long and hard about the stories of the First Peoples.
CAPITAL OF THE WORLD was full of stories and personalities exposed. These stories provided not only an overview of how countries were feeling about the end of the war, also they pinpointed the thoughts about the Nuclear Bombing of a country and the beginning of the Cold War. I was struck by how certain the founders were that this would end wars as we know it and promote diplomacy and dialogue; we still struggle with those two polarities.
At one point, I found the details a bit overwhelming – I kept looking for the humor or creative thinking but that was not to be and I am happy I pressed forward, because all those details enabled me to understand some crucial matters that are still playing out today. I found myself getting a deeper, clearer image of the USA in the 1940s how in our sometimes arrogance we could not see what we were doing. The Foreign People would not locate anyplace that was having race riots, would not allow people of different races on the bus, in local housing, in schools, or did not have good transportation facilities and would not allow the import of foreign foods. One promoter could not even see that the local laws against the Chinese made them ineligible from the very start.
There were lots of famous folks in the story, some I recognized and some I went on to research. I loved that the Architect Le Corbusier had to interrupt the process and get the committee to decide on a Headquarters not a whole city or a sovereign nation within the USA. I liked all the pictures included in the book and the collection of artist’s renderings of what was possible.
I totally enjoyed the stories about the BUSH family involvement in the process. Preston Bush the Grandfather of one of our Presidents and Great Grandfather of another truly created the concept “NOT IN MY BACKYARD” and “if I throw enough (other people’s) money and fear into the situation I will get my way.” I gained a whole new appreciation for the recent IRAQ war and how they went about persuading the UN that it was necessary and why those 2 Bush Presidents aligned themselves with such elitist, rich individuals who would still play out Great Grandpappy’s intentions and nearly break the bank for everyone else.
If you like to read a good history book and you are interested in how this process is playing out in our modern world, I think you will find CAPITAL OF THE WORLD a fine read. Story telling great and analysis is up to the reader.