Review - The Forgotten Peace: Mediation at Niagara Falls

David M. Malone has reviewed our book The Forgotten Peace: Mediation at Niagara Falls in the March issue of the Literary Review of Canada (LRC). The review is not freely available online right now, but it is available for purchase on the LRC website. As a consolation prize, here’s a summary of the book and some of what Malone has to say about it.

Discord and conflict is a part of everyday life. It can be about something as simple as how your next-door neighbour’s willow tree is encroaching on your backyard. You try to resolve the conflict by bribing him with cheesecake and asking nicely, but when he finally does agree to do some gardening, it’s at 6 am Saturday morning and includes the use of a chainsaw. How to tactfully resolve the conflict, when the neighbour is holding a weapon in his hands?

Imagine a similar situation, but between two countries. At an international level, the problem becomes much more complex and many more variables need to be taken into consideration. A variety of stratagems including diplo¬matic negotiations, mediation, and peace-keeping come into play. In Michael Small’s The Forgotten Peace: Mediation at Niagara Falls, the author describes a dispute that occurred between the United States and Mexico in 1914. The U.S. has taken issue with the overthrow of Mexico’s democratically elected leader in a military coup d’état. President Woodrow Wilson takes the moral high-ground and declares that he will not deal politically with a dictator, and decides to involve itself intimately in Mexico’s civil war. Mayhem ensues.

In one of the first broad-scale attempts at international mediation, Argentina, Brazil and Chile offer to mediate a peaceful resolution to the conflict between the U.S. and the two factions in Mexico. In his review, Malone writes:

“We Canadians tend to know too little about Latin American history. Small’s The Forgotten Peace helps fill the void. It reminds us of the relative stability over the past century in Latin America, dominated as it was by entrenched, highly educated, self-serving and wealthy elites in states, the borders of which have not moved much since 1900. Mexico, with its tormented history of revolution, dictator¬ship and democratic decay until quite recently, is in some ways an exception to the pattern. It escaped the spectacularly failed military dictatorships of so many Latin American countries of the 1960s to 1980s, but largely stagnated under the grip on power throughout much of the 20th century of the amusingly titled Institutional Revolutionary Party. Because these countries share our hemisphere, which Canadian governments have from time to time, and certainly currently, proclaimed as a prior¬ity for Canadian foreign policy, it is useful to know more.”

He continues:

“Small, a former Canadian ambassador to Cuba, writes beautifully. The book’s footnotes are finely wrought. The production design, with art nouveau graphic touches, is superb—indeed, the best I have seen in any book, short or long, in some time. The volume contains amusing annexes—not least political cartoons from the time (playing on biblical as well as contemporary themes and displaying a sophistication many of today’s cartoonists would admire).”

For further information on The Forgotten Peace: Mediation at Niagara Falls, visit our Website.

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