The Unquiet American: Richard Holbrooke in the World

Edited by Derek Chollet and Samantha Power. PublicAffairs, $29.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-61039-078-1
Diplomat Richard Holbrooke was known variously as "Hurricane Holbrooke, the Bulldozer, and Raging Bull," but despite the potentially pejorative connotations of these nicknames, he was a compassionate and irresistible force when he saw a need. According to his friend Strobe Talbott, he was "a personification of Thomas Paine's exhortation, ‘Lead, follow, or get out of the way!'" This mélange of Holbrooke's own writings and writings by his friends and colleagues tracks his career, from the Paris Peace Talks on Vietnam to his service as United States Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, a position created for him. Holbrooke's years working with Southeast Asia and China during the 1960s, that "slum of a decade," made him a perfect candidate to author the history and critique of the "pacification program" for the Pentagon Papers in 1967. His lengthy and productive career also included being Head of the Peace Corps in Morocco, founder of the American Academy in Berlin, and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. While the remarkable tributes add a compelling dimension to this quasi-biography, it is Holbrooke's own words—from a treatise on graffiti written for The New York Times when he was just 20 years old, to an address to whoever would win the 2008 presidential election outlining the many challenges that person would face—that illustrate what a remarkable individual he was. In addition to painting a dynamic portrait of a life fully lived, this book is an excellent insight into the "quiet" service and how diplomacy really works. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/02/2012
Release date: 11/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 400 pages - 978-1-61039-079-8
Paperback - 383 pages - 978-1-61039-215-0
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