An elucidating collection of writing by and about the late fiery, outspoken, undeniably capable United Nations ambassador and longtime diplomat.
Holbrooke (1941–2010) died suddenly at age 69, while serving his final mission as the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, appointed by President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton. In this omnibus, which incorporates many of his fine, reflective essays, former State Department colleagues like Strobe Talbott, prominent journalists such as Jonathan Alter and widow Kati Marton write movingly about Holbrooke’s long and eventful life. His successful career included his diplomatic cutting-of-teeth in Vietnam in the early 1960s, editing Foreign Policy magazine, appointments during every Democratic presidential administration since and including Jimmy Carter's, negotiating the Bosnia war treaty in 1995 (for which he was considered for a Nobel Peace Prize) and spearheading a more assertive approach to AIDS/HIV awareness among the global business community while at the UN, among many other notable accomplishments. Growing up in Scarsdale, N.Y., Holbrooke heeded JFK’s idealistic call to “do” for his country and entered the Foreign Service after college. His work on “pacification strategy” as part of the American counterinsurgency effort in Vietnam gave him a unique view on the failed U.S. effort there, which lent him expertise and credibility in diplomacy initiatives decades later in “Ak-Pak.” He was chosen as the youngest member of the American delegation to the Paris Peace Talks led by Averell Harriman in 1968, and helped assemble the Pentagon Papers. He worked alternately on Wall Street and as ambassador to Germany in the early Clinton presidency, and he was in favor of expanding NATO and the EU and of reforming the State Department as well as the UN. Holbrooke could be abrasive, ambitious and publicity-savvy; one observer noted, “He was as good at seducing journalists as he was at bullying dictators like Milosevic.”
Reverential but mostly evenhanded assessment of a singular diplomat.