Elusive Peace: A Kiwi peacekeeper in Angola

John McLeod


John McLeod’s account of his time as a peacekeeper in Angola … is the most revealing account yet written about what can happen when we send New Zealand service personnel on peace enforcement operations and it all goes tragically wrong.

— Glyn Harper, Professor of War Studies at Massey University



In 1986 John McLeod published Myth and Reality : The New Zealand Soldier in World War II. It was controversial but widely praised; one reviewer said it was one of the most important New Zealand books ever.

One criticism that challenged John was that to fully understand war you have to actually face fire. In 1998 he served as a United Nations Military Observer, monitoring the fraught Angolan peace process. Achieving peace in that war-wracked country proved elusive, and the violence and bloodshed he experienced affected him deeply.

It has taken a long time for John to be able to tell his story, which graphically reveals the disturbing realities of modern peacekeeping — and its far-reaching impact on those at the front line.

About the author

In 1979 John McLeod joined the Army as curator of the Army Museum in Waiouru. Thirty-two years later he retired after a career including service in Angola and Timor-Leste.  John has Masters degrees in history and public policy, and is the author of Myth and Reality: The New Zealand Soldier in World War II. He is currently responsible within the Defence Force for commemoration and heritage issues, and has a leading role in the 2015 Gallipoli commemoration.

Additional information


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Soft cover: 978-1-927242-77-3, ePub: 978-1-927242-77-3