The Dark Herald reviews Owen Stanley’s debut novel, The Missionaries:
This is a book that touched me more then I thought it would. For most of my career in the Marine Corps, I was fighting nasty little low level insurgencies. Honestly most of these had been going on before we showed up and continued after we left. They were just run of the mill tribal conflicts that flared up and died down again of their accord when the world wasn’t looking.
But when the world was looking it was time to send in the Marines “Hoo-Rah!” I didn’t mind overmuch. It was a life of adventure and I was young enough and dumb enough to enjoy it. It was why I joined the Corps in the first place. And I am reasonably certain we did more good than harm. The people we were dealing with understood, respected and even honored a warrior ethic. We were comprehensible to them, even if the motives for our arrival looked pretty hazy to them
We made some effort to get to the know locals and listen to their problems and grievances. Occasionally we would dig wells for them, which was usually appreciated. Although they always wondered what it would cost them in the end.
Sadly what it would usually cost them was becoming a UN protectorate.
The UN assessment teams that would follow on our heels…after we had settled things down naturally…were an inexplicable plague, the likes of which the poor bastards had never known.
The best of the UN Poo-bahs had but one purpose and that was to make sure the UN got the credit for what we were doing. The average ones would try to put us in UN Baby Blues, constantly lecture us on how to do our jobs and saddle us with insane Rules of Engagement, (bottom line don’t do anything gross like shoot back). The worst of them would have had the colonial government of Leopold II reeling in horror.
The infuriating thing was sitting helplessly by and watching the UN get away with doing these things. I have no idea why the United Nations still enjoys the kind of prestige that it does at that point. It ranks as equal members first world democracies and third world kleptocrats. It’s Human Rights Council is a by word for farce. It’s a dumping ground for diplomats that couldn’t make it in their own countries diplomatic corps. This is an oligarchy of bureaucrats with no one to answer to and yet, it pretends it’s the best that humanity has to offer.
As you may have guessed a book about United Nations high commissioners getting what they deserve is little short of porn to me…. I highly recommend it.
This is a particularly interesting review, because both the reviewer and the author definitely know very well whereof they write. And while it may strike those who have not yet read The Missionaries that I am perhaps overreacting to it or praising it too highly, all I can say is that you will simply have to read the book before reaching any such conclusion.
To put it plainly, no one writes books like this anymore. They don’t because they simply can’t; virtually none of today’s authors possess the necessary inside experience of the NGO world combined with an intrinsically skeptical outsider’s perspective on it. This is a unique snapshot of a specific point in time; just as Catch-22 could not have been written without Joseph Heller’s experience of war and all the madness of the military bureaucracy that goes with it, there is no one, besides Owen Stanley, who could have written this satirical take on the UN’s quixotic attempt to bring the modern world to the natives of Elephant Island.
UPDATE: Thank you all again, for making The Missionaries #1 in Satire. Not bad, considering that we are reliably informed that the editor doesn’t even know what it is. It is also #1 in Humor, and, I suspect those who have read it will agree, deservedly so.
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #509 Paid in Kindle Store
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Humor & Entertainment > Humor > Satire
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Satire
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Literary Fiction > Satire