A World Made New

by Mary Ann Glendon

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 400

A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a nonfiction book by American writer and Harvard professor Mary Ann Glendon. The history book is also a partial biography of former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. A World Made New examines Mrs. Roosevelt's life and ventures after the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Glendon's book can be viewed as two different narratives intertwined. The first one is a thorough documentation of how the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was conceived and initiated. The second narrative is the biographical details of not only Eleanor Roosevelt but of many key figures she worked with who made the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights possible.

The book also provides insights into the then-new United Nations and shows the shift in global politics and what could be considered globalization. Eleanor Roosevelt's late husband was famously a key figure in America's rise to the top of the global political order, and Eleanor saw the negative consequences of global war firsthand. She believed that a universal charter should be created in order to ensure atrocities are not repeated again. Mrs. Roosevelt believed in the American Democrat idea of creating a worldwide network of alliances in order to create a global checks-and-balances. In this way, nations could, theoretically, prevent or address instances of human rights abuses, such as genocide.

Glendon's work also explores the general concept of human rights. While forms of civil and human rights have been implemented since antiquity—for example, Julius Caesar introduced civil rights and human rights concepts during his reign—there wasn't a "universal" charter that held the powerful nations accountable for their actions. What essentially stopped the Nazi genocide program in Europe was firepower and military might. Meaning, if it weren't for the politics involved in World War II, the Allied nations would have been slower to act upon stopping the atrocities of Adolf Hitler and his fascist allies. It wasn't that the United States and the Allied nations did not care about the Holocaust, it was just that the initiation of warfare subsequently ended the atrocities much quicker.

The book showed the complexities of twentieth-century geopolitics and how the declaration affects the international community to this day. Glendon illustrated that forward-thinking figures like Eleanor Roosevelt are examples of how collaboration—both among individuals and entire nations—could lead to paradigm shifts in our civilization.

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