After leaving the Clinton administration, Richard Holbrooke maintained an office at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he kept a picture of himself and the Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic on the mantelpiece. The two men were smiling; the caption read, “We had a frank and cordial conversation and then I bombed him.” Holbrooke’s untimely death in 2010 deprived the country of one of its finest, most inspiring, and at times most infuriating diplomats and public servants. It also motivated a group of his former colleagues, associates, and employees to write a spectacular series of essays retracing his life and career through the eyes of those who knew him best. Power’s essay alone is worth the price of the book; reflecting on her mentor, Power is affectionate, exasperated, and eloquent, catching Holbrooke at his most intense, most personal, and most effective. One of Holbrooke’s youngest protégés, E. Benjamin Skinner, writes about Holbrooke’s experiences in college journalism and as an intern at The New York Times and also considers the ways Holbrooke quietly integrated humanitarian concerns into his diplomatic missions. Aided by Holbrooke’s widow, Kati Marton, Chollet and Power have pulled together a collection of writings that reminds those who knew Holbrooke what they have lost and allows others to learn something about one of the great men of our time.
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