TO END A WAR by Richard Holbrooke

TO END A WAR

From Sarajevo to Dayton and Beyond

KIRKUS REVIEW

A riveting and forthright insider account of the Dayton accords and their aftermath, by their primary architect. For Holbrooke, a proponent of the use of force to end the Bosnian crisis, the assignment as assistant secretary of state during Clinton’s first administration (1994—96) offered an opportunity to implement changes he had long advocated. The core of Holbrooke’s report, and by far the most vibrant and disarming, is his candid account of the Dayton accords that ended the war. “The negotiations,” he writes, “were simultaneously cerebral and physical, abstract and personal . . . something like a combination of chess and mountain climbing.” To End a War captures this mood precisely; Holbrooke offers gripping tales of marathon 24-hour sessions, scenes of the Balkan leaders screaming at one another and at the Americans, and offers unforgettable portraits of Milosevic, Izetbegovic, and Tudjman. The place seethes with frustration. When Anthony Lake comments that this is “the craziest zoo I’ve ever seen,” Holbrooke feels satisfied that he has “understood the special weirdness of Dayton.” The consummate diplomat and team member, Holbrooke tells not only of his own fiercely dedicated work but graciously praises and documents the efforts of negotiators, diplomats, politicians, and humanitarian workers who continue to take part in making and implementing policy. While not exactly literary, Holbrooke’s memoir is both highly literate and informed, as well as notably readable. Quotations appear from W.H. Auden, Kierkegaard, and Melville, among others. It’s also steeped in the tradition of diplomatic memoirs by eminent diplomat/authors such as Henry Kissinger and Harold Nicolson. While limiting his discussion to the Balkans and the Dayton accords, Holbrooke always has an eye to the broader picture, drawing frequent historical comparisons. A diplomatic memoir of uncommon honesty and insight and a sobering tale for those who dismiss the Dayton accords as an unjust peace. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-375-50057-X
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1998




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