Man without a gun : one diplomat's secret struggle to free the hostages, fight terrorism, and end a war /
Giandomenico Picco.
1st ed.
New York, N.Y. : Times Books, 1999.
xiii, 334 p. : ill., map ; 25 cm.
0812929101 :
More Details
New York, N.Y. : Times Books, 1999.
0812929101 :
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 309-310) and index.
A Look Inside
First Chapter
Washington, Damascus, Teheran Spring 1992 It was my third visit to the White House in as many months, and the omens were not good. In January and March, I had gone to Washington to see Brent Scowcroft, the retired air force general serving as George Bush's national security adviser and a man with a well-earned reputation as a strategic thinker. My mission was at once simple and delicate. For years, I had been telling the Iranian authorities in Teheran that the American president would reciprocate in some way, would reach out to the Islamic Republic, if they used their influence in Lebanon to win the freedom of the American hostages. Bush had used the words "Goodwill begets goodwill" in his inaugural address of January 20, 1989, and he had meant it as a signal to those who might help in Beirut. It was directed, I reminded the Iranians early and often, at them. Now it was nearly four months since Terry Anderson, the last of the American hostages in Beirut, had been freed, and the Iranians were growing restless. It was time for Washington to deliver its part of the implied quid pro quo. Scowcroft had intimated at our first two meetings that the United States might have some difficulty living up to its "promise" of three years earlier. Even so, I held out hope that the administration would give me something I could take to the Iranians. Perhaps I was in denial: the idea that a word given would not be kept was unacceptable to me, since my credibility had been essential to the success of my work. Indeed, it had saved my life more than once. I did not even hint to Teheran that I was facing problems securing reciprocity from Washington. In retrospect, maybe I should have because Scowcroft made it official in April: the timing was not propitious; there would be no gesture toward Iran anytime soon. Was it the upcoming presidential election? Perhaps. After all, could the incumbent risk looking soft on a country that still tarred America as "the Great Satan"? Could he appear to pay off a government that had essentially taken over the U.S. Embassy in Teheran in 1979? Whatever the reasons, a three-year operation in Beirut built on a foundation of trust had suddenly turned to sand. Unwittingly--naively, as it turned out--I had misled an entire government. I made one more run at Scowcroft. Iran, I learned, had approached a European company for spare parts that did not fall under the NATO embargo on trade with Teheran. Nevertheless, no NATO country would authorize such a sale without a green light from Washington. So I tried to dope out another way, something that might get us out of the bind. What if the United States simply ignored the sale? The ambassador from the European country involved could call on Scowcroft to raise the issue. Given that the spare parts were not on the blacklist, the White House would neither sanction nor reject the proposal. In other words, the ambassador would receive no official comment. White House officials could then properly say, if asked, that they had never given formal consent even as the sale went through. The Europeans, in effect, would act as the conduit for the goodwill gesture to Iran. I, in turn, would suggest to Iran that the White House had allowed that to happen, making good on George Bush's words of January 20, 1989. Good play, unresponsive audience: Scowcroft rejected the proposal. There would be no deal. That left me with a broken promise, two German hostages still in Beirut, no clue to the fate of the missing Israeli pilot Ron Arad, and, painfully, my credibility--the most important thing, which had enabled me to spring nine Western hostages and ninety-one Lebanese prisoners--in tatters. Time had run out. My failure to deliver the American side of the deal with the Iranians essentially rendered me a liar, and I had to face up to the fact if I were to have any chance to reclaim my integrity, one more trip would be required. I could hard
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 1999-04-15:
Italian diplomat Picco served for 20 exciting years as an international civil servant with the United Nations. He helped negotiate the end of the Iran-Iraq conflict but finally resigned when his efforts to ensure a peaceful transfer of power in Afghanistan were undermined by infighting among resistance groups. The bulk of the book is taken up with his account of his efforts to free the Western hostages held in Lebanon. The author provides many details of the lengthy, frustrating, and sometimes dangerous work he undertook. What is clear is that dedication and personal contact make the difference in international relations; as Picco argues, the human factor is at the basis of crises and the individual at the source of solutions. The author idealizes mentor Javier Perez de Cuellar as UN Secretary General because he forced the UN to operate independently of its member states (and their narrow interests) and feels that the Secretary General must serve as a leading role model, not the UN bureaucracy. The author now leads an international consulting firm in New York. A BBC documentary on the hostage crisis is supposed to be aired on U.S. public television near the publication date. Suitable for academic and large public libraries.Daniel K. Blewett, Loyola Univ. Lib., Chicago (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1999-04-19:
A behind-the-scenes account of some of the most important events in the Middle East, Picco's memoir, written from the perspective of a senior United Nations official, is riveting. A native of Italy, Picco joined the UN in 1973 and rose to become a top aide to Secretary-General Javier P‚rez de Cu‚llar. He played a central role in negotiating the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, the end of the Iran-Iraq war and the release of hostages (including Terry Waite and Terry Anderson) from Lebanon. Although Picco provides scant historical background about the roots of the various conflicts, remaining narrowly focused on his face-to-face encounters, he vividly conveys the drama of high-stakes diplomacy and the tactics employed by many players trying to navigate a complex web of interests. Most of the book is devoted to Picco's successful efforts to win freedom for the hostages in LebanonÄa mission that entailed direct negotiations with the kidnappers in Beirut. Picco was "escorted" to these meetings by masked terrorists who would throw a hood over his head, toss him to the floor of a car and drive him to the secret location. At the very moment of triumph, Picco's career was cut short by a falling out with the new Secretary General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali (whom Picco depicts with delicious vitriol). This memoir of an extraordinary career reads like a combination of a thriller and a textbook on the delicate and dangerous art of diplomacy in an often explosive region. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. Author tour. (May) FYI: Online co-promotion with PBS, at, coinciding with a forthcoming PBS documentary on the hostage crisis. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
This item was reviewed in:
Booklist, April 1999
Kirkus Reviews, April 1999
Library Journal, April 1999
Publishers Weekly, April 1999
New York Times Book Review, July 1999
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Table of Contents
The Middle East
Prologue: Washington, Damascus, Teheran: Spring 1992p. 3
The Making of an International Civil Servant: The Cold War Incubationp. 9
Afghan Tales: The Last Battle of the Cold Warp. 20
Peacemaking: The Secretary-General Becomes a Playerp. 40
The Soviet Union and Iran: Unwitting Midwives for a New United Nationsp. 49
A Different Kind of Diplomatp. 56
The Iran-Iraq War: Securing the Peacep. 74
A Quid pro Quo with Iranp. 97
A Dangerous Game with Many Playersp. 115
Beirut: Anatomy of the Dealp. 131
A Terrorist Across the Tablep. 153
From a Mullah to a Rabbip. 176
Jackie Mann: The First Marathon in Beirutp. 186
Jesse Turner: Lost in Beirutp. 201
Waite and Sutherland: Raising the Antep. 230
Cicippio, Steen, Anderson: The Heart of a Lionp. 246
Those Beyond Reachp. 264
The Last Hostagep. 274
Epilogue: Out of the Shadowsp. 296
Cast of Charactersp. 301
Selected Bibliographyp. 309
Indexp. 311
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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