Always the first to respond to a crisis, Médecins Sans Frontières and its sister organization Médecins du Monde have set into place a style of humanitarian action that combines rapid intervention with invaluable critical assessment. Whether the crisis is war, famine, or a natural diaster, these organizations have set a precedent for humanitarian action that has yet to be surpassed.
Their efforts were not developed in a vacuum. A close look at the history of humanitarianism, especially within the United States, Great Britain, and Switzerland, reveals the existing forms of action that MSF, MDM, and many other groups used to perfect their programs. These include the relief practices of the Red Cross combined with the mobilization of public opinion implemented by Amnesty International. The contributors to this volume assess competing French and "Anglo-Saxon" models of intervention and project the next phase of humanitarianism in the twenty-first century.