Ralph Bunche Critical Essays

James Haskins


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Young people of all races could find no better role model than the Ralph Bunche who is portrayed in Haskins’ biography. Bunche’s difficult path from childhood poverty to international acclaim and his significant contributions to humanity should serve as an inspiration to everyone. That those successes were achieved despite coming to adulthood during the Great Depression and despite the rampant racism in American society that created numerous obstacles for Bunche only underscores the book’s central theme: Effort and perseverance, regardless of one’s circumstance, lead to success and personal fulfillment.

Haskins highlights those qualities in Bunche most clearly in his account of Bunche’s conduction of the negotiations which he directed between Israeli and Arab diplomats in 1949. During eighty-one days of nonstop talks, Bunche worked his staff and the often-obstinate diplomats to exhaustion, at one point locking himself and the Arab and Israeli delegates in a room for twenty hours, refusing to adjourn until a particularly difficult problem had been resolved. Haskins makes clear to his readers that this sort of dedication inevitably leads to victory. In this case, success resulted in the Nobel Peace Prize for Bunche. Haskins makes it clear, however, that Bunche was much more than a successful mediator for the United Nations.

Haskins shows that, even at an early age, Bunche refused to acquiesce to the racist insistence on his...

(The entire section is 546 words.)