"Portrays Holbrooke in all of his endearing and exasperating self-willed glory...Both a sweeping diplomatic history and a Shakespearean tragicomedy... If you could read one book to comprehend American's foreign policy and its quixotic forays into quicksands over the past 50 years, this would be it."--Walter Isaacson, The New York Times Book Review
"By the end of the second page, maybe the third, you will be hooked...There never was a diplomat-activist quite like [Holbrooke], and there seldom has been a book quite like this -- sweeping and sentimental, beguiling and brutal, catty and critical, much like the man himself."--David M. Shribman, The Boston Globe
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.
“It is impossible to read George Packer’s new biography of Richard Holbrooke without a piercing sense of melancholy, not only that a man so supremely alive should be dead, but also because such people—Our Man, in Packer’s title, the incarnation of vanished glory, imperial hubris, exceptional Americanism—no longer walk the earth… Extraordinary.”—James Traub, Foreign Policy “You may ask yourself, is it worth one of the best American non-fiction writers producing a book of just under 600 pages on an arrogant and abrasive egotist whose highest sustained rank in the State Department was that of a lowly assistant secretary? The answer is unabashedly yes. This is a remarkable work about a remarkable, if deeply flawed, statesman whose career was intimately intertwined with the 50 years of American decline from Vietnam to Afghanistan.”—Jonathan Powell, The Spectator
“[A] magisterial tome, a blend of biography and diplomatic history on par with Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars or Neil Sheehan’s A Bright Shining Lie… you really should read this book if you’re at all interested in the decline of our country’s elites or America’s role in the world over the past 50 years.” —Fred Kaplan, Slate
“Packer's energetic prose… carries the reader easily through the three main acts of Holbrooke's diplomatic life… impeccably sourced.” —Paddy Hirsch, NPR
“Mesmerizing… An elegy not just for Holbrooke but for the vision of American power he represented… Insightful and beautifully written…” —Barbara Spindel, The Christian Science Monitor
"No book could achieve the intensity, completeness, and narrative depth of Our Man without the author’s belief that he had been put on this earth to do it. The strength of the book is its focus on Holbrooke’s character, which Packer pursues much as James Boswell pursued the human truth of Samuel Johnson. The point is not to analyze things—why Yugoslavia flew to pieces, or what Johnson did for the English language with his dictionary. The point is to winkle out and bring to light the whole truth of the man: what he was like in all his contradictions." —Thomas Powers, The New York Review of Books
“Our Man is a great, exuberant read, gossipy and thoughtful.”—Roger Boyes, The Times
"[S]prawling, mesmerizing…"—Max Boot, The Washington Post
“Outstanding…One of the most fascinating dissections of US power – its strengths and serious weaknesses – I’ve ever read.” —Steve Bloomfield, The Guardian “In Our Man, George Packer has delivered a deeply affecting and ultimately tragic biography of a distinguished diplomat…. Packer brilliantly describes Holbrooke’s personal journey through each episode, exploring along the way how these wars came to shape him — and how Holbrooke applied his considerable guile, fortitude and intelligence to shape the course of the conflicts.”—Kurt Campbell, The Financial Times
“Best appreciated like a novel, consumed whole…charming, brilliant, cocksure.”—Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times