The Quality of Mercy
Shawcross's book chronicles the way in which the world responds to calamity. The author takes as one of his themes the famine which seemed to sweep Cambodia in 1979 and the extraordiary way in which the Western world reacted to it.
Shawcross shows us how a catastrophe in the Third World evokes the developed world and examines the modern conscience towards victims of disaster and persecution. He draws upon thousands of internal documents and secret archives from those international organizations on which we rely in times of crisis. He examines UNICEF, the World Food Programme, The United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the International Committee of the Red Cross, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, OXFAM and the World Council of Churches.
The Quality of Mercy has another, universal theme. The author examines the Holocaust, the extermination of Europe's Jews, dominates modern memory and helps condition the way in which we perceive and react to catastrophe.
The Book is an indespensable contribution to the history of the aftermath of America's Vietnam War and the murderous Pol Pot regime which devastated Cambodia after its takeover. But it is also a thoughtful and profound contemplation of frailty and the ironies of our world today, and the practical and philosophical ways in which we try to come to terms with them.
'Journalists are always jealous of other journalists' books. I can only say that this is one of the most completely sympathetic studies ever made of this lovely and tragic land, and I doubt if its quality will ever be surpassed.'
James Cameron, Sunday Times
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