From the award-winning author of The Unwinding--the vividly told saga of the ambition, idealism, and hubris of one of the most legendary and complicated figures in recent American history, set amid the rise and fall of U.S. power from Vietnam to Afghanistan
Richard Holbrooke was brilliant, utterly self-absorbed, and possessed of almost inhuman energy and appetites. Admired and detested, he was the force behind the Dayton Accords that ended the Balkan wars, America's greatest diplomatic achievement in the post-Cold War era. His power lay in an utter belief in himself and his idea of a muscular, generous foreign policy. From his days as a young adviser in Vietnam to his last efforts to end the war in Afghanistan, Holbrooke embodied the postwar American impulse to take the lead on the global stage. But his sharp elbows and tireless self-promotion ensured that he never rose to the highest levels in government that he so desperately coveted. His story is thus the story of America during its era of supremacy: its strength, drive, and sense of possibility, as well as its penchant for overreach and heedless self-confidence. In Our Man, drawn from Holbrooke's diaries and papers, we are given a nonfiction narrative that is both intimate and epic in its revelatory portrait of this extraordinary and deeply flawed man and the elite spheres of society and government he inhabited.
About the Author
GEORGE PACKER is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, which was a New York Times best seller and winner of the 2013 National Book Award. His other nonfiction books include The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq, a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize, and Blood of the Liberals, winner of the 2001 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He is also the author of two novels and a play, Betrayed, winner of the 2008 Lucille Lortel Award, and the editor of a two-volume edition of the essays of George Orwell.
"A brilliant, abrasive diplomat struggles to resolve foreign conflicts while fighting bureaucratic wars at home in this scintillating biography… Packer makes him a Shakespearean character—egomaniacal, devious, sloppy enough to make presidents deny him the prize of becoming secretary of state, yet charismatic and inspiring—in a larger-than-life portrait brimming with vivid novelistic impressions… In Holbrooke’s thwarted ambitions, Packer finds both a riveting tale of diplomatic adventure—part high drama, part low pettiness—and a captivating metaphor for America’s waning power."
—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Absorbing… Students of recent world history and of American power, hard and soft, will find this an endlessly fascinating study of character and events."
—Kirkus (Starred Review)
"A portrait of the entirety of the man—not just his public life, but also his private motivations. Holbrooke was always vocal about the need for the United States to show ambition in using its power in service of its values. Packer shows that this idea was connected to, and ultimately inseparable from, Holbrooke’s lifelong ambition to win recognition for personally wielding power and shaping events, even at the expense of his relationships with friends, colleagues, and family."
"Stunning... If you’re one of the dozens of people running for president, the book is probably the best guide you can find to navigating a transitional moment in American leadership and foreign policy. For the rest of us, it’s a gripping read, and a sad one."
—Ben Smith, BuzzFeed News
"Through a depiction that may be likened to Robert Caro’s The Power Broker, Packer analyzes the forces of character that led us from a commitment to unity to the chaotic division in which we find ourselves today."
—Lauren LeBlanc, The Observer’s "16 Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2019"