Cover: Freedom on Fire: Human Rights Wars and America’s Response, from Harvard University PressCover: Freedom on Fire in PAPERBACK

Freedom on Fire

Human Rights Wars and America’s Response

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$32.00 • £27.95 • €29.95

ISBN 9780674018556

Publication Date: 10/31/2005

Academic Trade

400 pages


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Shattuck deserves some credit for helping to bring [about longer U.S. involvement in Bosnia]. At real risk to himself, he journeyed to Bosnia in 1995 to interview Muslim victims of Serbian ‘ethnic cleansing.’ He was one of the first to report on the massacre at Srebrenica, which finally galvanized an apathetic United States government into imposing a peace settlement after four years of fighting that left more than 200,000 dead… [The] reader is…left admiring Shattuck’s willingness to fight for his ideals.—Max Boot, The New York Times

What he has provided us is a quite readable account of the travails of a highly placed US official on behalf of human rights.—Peter R. Baehr, Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights

Shattuck combines morality and pragmatism, arguing that even before September 11, the costs to the U.S. of not intervening quickly and decisively in developing human rights crises outweighed the advantages of remaining on the sidelines. Without assistance, states collapse, and failed states become centers of disorder and loci of terrorism. Shattuck correspondingly calls for a redefinition of international security, based on early warning of human rights crises followed by preventive measures, and, where necessary, direct intervention, including military force.Publishers Weekly

In that complicated decade after the end of the Cold War and before 9-11, when most Americans wanted to disengage from the world, John Shattuck stood tall for a foreign policy that would advance our national security interests by promoting our values and the cause of human rights overseas. As a close colleague, I can attest to the significance of his achievement, which he recounts vividly in this invaluable look at how policy is forged in the crucible of Washington’s cut-throat politics.—Ambassador Richard Holbrooke

John Shattuck’s outstanding volume on human rights is a gift to the nation and must reading for every American who cares about our ideals and security in today’s changing world. Shattuck vividly describes key achievements and setbacks for U.S. human rights policy in the past decade. He draws timely lessons for the future, and makes painfully clear that when violations of human rights are not addressed effectively, terrorism thrives.—Senator Edward M. Kennedy

This principled and sobering account by an insider of U.S. experience in addressing human rights violations in the difficult contexts of Rwanda, Haiti, the Balkans and China should be compulsory reading for policy makers and commentators in the aftermath of a war on Iraq, which the U.S. administration has argued was justified on human rights grounds.—Mary Robinson, former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights

This book deserves to be widely read and debated. John Shattuck weaves together an engrossing account of a career in the service of human rights, an illuminating critique of U.S. responses to crises such as those in Rwanda, Haiti, and Bosnia, and thoughtful proposals for policies to combat human rights abuses abroad and at home.—Sissela Bok, author of Mayhem: Violence as Public Entertainment

John Shattuck has given us a gripping account of how American politicians and diplomats act—or, as often, refuse to act—when people are slaughtered for their race, their religion, or their politics. His stories from inside the machine dramatize the hard questions: When should we intervene? Is Iraq the same as Bosnia? Is concern for human rights at odds with national security? His insights are vitally important.—Anthony Lewis

This is an inspiring report from the front lines of the worldwide battle for human rights. Unsparing of those in government who failed to measure up to human rights emergencies, John Shattuck tells a grim story the way it, unfortunately, is. This is also—rare among do-good books—masterfully written and easy to read.—Daniel Schorr

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