power discussion


Howie Kahn: Why Vieira de Mello?

Samantha Power: I think brokenness is the operative issue of our time. Broken souls, broken hearts, broken places. And I don’t know of any historical figure, or any contemporary figure, who, as much as he did, bumped up against brokenness and tried to bring his experience to bear to mend—not fix—but mend, heal, and improve people’s lives. I thought, at a time when we all talk about transnational threats and global challenges, it makes sense to do a book on a global guy, a guy who lived in that world, who crossed borders. All of our contemporary heroes are still very parochial in a way—still national, still people who operate within states rather than among them.

It took until the end for me to really understand what the book was: It’s like The Education of Henry Adams, but about a peacemaker, a humanitarian, someone who deals with these broken places. It allows people to access him at the beginning of the book as an idealist and tolearn with him in his moments of adaptation, to witness the mistakes he’s making so that we don’t have to make the mistakes ourselves.

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