Dunant's Dream: War, Switzerland and The History of the Red Cross

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9780006388838: Dunant's Dream: War, Switzerland and The History of the Red Cross

The only authoritative and comprehensive history of the Red Cross. ‘A magnificent book, vast and scholarly.’ JOHN KEEGAN, Telegraph

The International Red Cross was the inspiration – the dream – of Henri Dunant, a thirty-one-year-old Swiss businessman appalled by the butchery and lack of medical care for injured soldiers during the battle of Solferino in 1859. He set out to create an international organization which was not only to alter, irrevocably, the fate of all those wounded in every war, but which moved rapidly into international humanitarian law, refugee work, prison conditions and the tracking of people parted by warfare. Today the Red Cross has 137 national societies and 250 million members. Yet it remains an inscrutable institution – very much the same animal today as in the 1870s – governed by the Swiss alone.

Caroline Moorehead is the first writer to be granted unrestricted access to the extensive archives in Geneva, closed for over 100 years. They provide a unique study of the politics of conflict. Dunant’s Dream traces the Red Cross’s origins, investigating the extraordinary secretive paranoia of the headquarters. It uncovers some startling truths about the Red Cross and its relationship with some of the most horrific and barbaric political regimes of the twentieth century.

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Review:

‘A balanced, moving and utterly absorbing account of how high the human spirit can soar and the depths to which it can sink’
AMANDA FOREMAN, Independent;’A humane and remarkable book.’
MICHAEL BURLEIGH, Independent on Sunday;’This engrossing history frequently reads like a superb historical novel… delightful and unexpected.’
BRIAN PHILLIPS, Literary Review

From the Back Cover:

The Red Cross was the inspiration – the dream – of Henri Dunant, a thirty-one-year-old business man appalled by the butchery and lack of medical care for injured soldiers at the battle of Solferino in 1859. He set out to create an international organization which was to alter, irrevocably, the fate of all those wounded in every war. Caroline Moorhead is the first writer to be granted unrestricted access to the extensive Red Cross archives in Genvea, closed for over 100 years. 'Dunant’s Dream' traces the origins of the organization, and uncovers some startling truths about the Red Cross and its relationship with some of the most horrific and barbaric political regimes of the twentieth century. It is a moving and authoritative history of the politics of conflict by an author of real distinction which sheds light not just on the Red Cross but on the nature of humanity itself.

“A balanced, moving and utterly absorbing account of how high the human spirit can soar and the depths to which it can sink.”
AMANDA FOREMAN, 'Independent'

“'Dunant’s Dream' is both gripping and wide-reaching. Caroline Moorehead has found one of those little sub-plots of history which far from being dull or peripheral represents the shifting moralities of an entire age … What emerges is no less than a modern Manichaean epic: the unarmed forces of good pitched against man’s ingenious and tireless capacity for cruelty … an excellent book.”
PHILIP MARSDEN, 'Sunday Telegraph'

“This engrossing history frequently reads like a superb historical novel … delightful and unexpected.”
BRIAN PHILLIPS, 'Literary Review'

A masterly and moving account … truly outstanding.”
ROY PORTER, 'Sunday Times'

“A huge, compelling and compassionate book.”
MICHAEL IGNATIEFF, 'The Times'

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