A UN Family Odyssey, by Roy Morey

Roy Morey will be known to quite a few BAFUNCS members: he served as UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator in Samoa, China and Vietnam. However, the trajectory of Morey’s life - from a humble upbringing in the south-western US, to serving in the Nixon White House and the Kissinger State Department, to an eventful career in UNDP – is more interesting than most.

Morey wrote of his professional UN career in an earlier work – The United Nations at Work in Asia (2014, McFarland).  This recently published successor is a more personal reflection on his life experience and features a wide range of anecdotes and reflections from his childhood, through the American academic and political world into a life of UN globetrotting.  It ends with a thoughtful chapter on lessons learned from this exposure to a variety of cultures and institutions – and a notable declaration of faith in the potential of the younger generation to address the challenges ahead.

Timing matters, of course, and Roy Morey was fortunate to have been the first American to represent the UN in China and then in Vietnam, at times of their rapid modernisation and opening up to the outside world.  But he was also adept at taking advantage of these opportunities and at connecting with local people who illuminated their countries and cultures.

A political scientist, Morey also reflects on his political voyage from being a young campaigner for Eisenhower in 1952, through a spirited defence of Nixon’s policies (but not, he stresses, of his character), to his disappointment with many Reaganite themes which, he argues, sowed the seeds of the current Trumpist GOP.  He makes clear his ongoing dismay and disillusionment with this.

Permeating his account is the quiet, grounded, unfailingly supportive and profoundly adaptable personality of Delores, Roy Morey’s wife of 65 years.  They have been a classic example of what Americans call a “twofer”, two for the price of one.  The UN was lucky to have them both.

Robert England

A United Nations Family Odyssey: Living and working in Thailand, South Pacific, China and Vietnam (2023, iUniverse)

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