Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Biography
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Prize for Biography
Winner of the 2019 Hitchens Prize
"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.
"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)
"This book is a real accomplishment; it’s hands down the best biography I have read this year.... Deeply researched and reported.... Sure to win a prize (or two or three) in the 2019 literary-awards sweepstakes." (Adam B. Kushner, Philadelphia Inquirer)
"This is the kind of biography (massive, detailed) by the kind of author (respected, experienced) reserved for great books on great men.... Packer make[s] a case for Holbrooke’s place in the pantheon, showing that there was real idealism and skill buried beneath the layers of self-regard." (Mary Ann Gwin, The Seattle Times)
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- Michael Stiller
Awe inspiring work of sheer literary talent, excavating the complicated life story of one of history's almost great men and tracing the end of the American century with a keen sense of both the promise of its ideals and the tragic failures of its efforts to remake the world.