Table Talk

Human rights champion Samantha Power's memoir reveals how she changed the world

Samantha Power, former US ambassador to the UN and lifelong champion of human rights, has written a memoir that reveals how one person really can make a difference in the world. She spoke to Sue de Groot

05 July 2020 - 00:05 By Sue de Groot

The entry for “upstander” in the Oxford English Dictionary reads: “coined in 2002 by the Irish-American diplomat Samantha Power”. Speaking last week from her home in Massachusetts, Power still wonders whether she really “coined” the word. It was popularised in her 2002 book, “A Problem From Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide, which won the Pulitzer Prize and a couple of years later brought Power to the attention of Barack Obama.

“Until a reporter called me I didn’t know the word hadn’t existed before,” she says. “This idea of bystander versus upstander had morphed into a concept in my mind … It was ‘stand by’ versus ‘stand up’, so turning it into a noun didn’t seem like some path-breaking thing.”..

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