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Richard Holbrooke, who died in December 2010, was a pivotal player in U.S. diplomacy for more than forty years. Most recently special envoy for Iraq and Afghanistan under President Obama, Holbrooke also served as assistant secretary of state for both Asia and Europe, and as ambassador to both Germany and the United Nations. He had a key role in brokering a peace agreement among warring factions in Bosnia that led to the Dayton Peace Accords in 1995.
Widely regarded to possess one of the most penetrating minds of any modern diplomat of any nation, Holbrooke was also well known for his outsized personality, and his capacity to charm and offend in equally colossal measures. In this book, the friends and colleagues who knew him best survey his accomplishments as a diplomat, activist, and author. Excerpts from Holbrooke's own writings further illuminate each significant period of his career.
The Unquiet American is both a tribute to an exceptional public servant and a backstage history of the last half-century of American foreign policy.
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 m lange 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.