‘Our Man’ by George Packer

‘Our Man’ by George Packer

WHO: Richard Holbrooke

WHAT: OUR MAN: Richard Holbrooke
and the End of the American Century,
by George Packer

WHEN: Published by Knopf May 7, 2019

WHERE: The author lives in New York.

WHY: “The riveting life of a deeply flawed diplomat…
an endlessly fascinating study of character and events.”

—KIRKUS, a starred review

“A pensive portrait of powerhouse diplomat Richard Holbrooke.
“As a young foreign service officer stationed in the Mekong Delta, Holbrooke stood out for his shrewd analyses, informed by long hours of fact-gathering in the provinces, and the truth-to-power directness of his reports. But he was also known for his relentless ambition and his tendency to brush off, bulldoze, or outright betray anyone in his way. No one loved America more, suggests Packer, or had a more nuanced understanding of its power. In position after diverse position in half a dozen countries, including Bosnia and Afghanistan, under every Democratic administration from Johnson on, Holbrooke would demonstrate his talent for wrenching agreement from the jaws of impasse.
“Yet his idealism was inseparable from his egoism, and late in his career, hamstrung by decades of accumulated grudges, he struggled to remain relevant and never achieved his dream of serving as secretary of state. Packer, who knew Holbrooke personally, celebrates the man’s larger-than-life qualities while remaining clear-eyed about his profound flaws. And by the end, he convincing argues that Holbrooke’s passing signifies the loss of something larger still, a sense of American possibility, now seemingly out of reach.” —Brendan Driscoll, in a starred review for BOOKLIST

“Scintillating…a larger-than-life portrait brimming with vivid novelistic impressions.
In Holbrooke’s thwarted ambition, Packer finds both a tale of diplomatic adventure — part high drama, part low pettiness — and a captivating metaphor for America’s waning power.” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, a starred review

“An insightful and indispensable rendering of an intriguing
and accomplished figure who persisted in the pursuit of peace.”

—Frederick J. Augustyn Jr, in a starred review for LIBRARY JOURNAL

. . . . .


Holbrooke? Yes, I knew him. I can’t get his voice out of my head. I still hear it saying, “You haven’t read that book? You really need to read it.” Saying, “I feel, and I hope this doesn’t sound too self-satisfied, that in a very difficult situation where nobody has the answer, I at least know what the overall questions and moving parts are.” Saying, “Gotta go, Hillary’s on the line.” That voice! Calm, nasal, a trace of older New York, a singsong cadence when he was being playful, but always doing something to you, cajoling, flattering, bullying, seducing, needling, analyzing, one-upping you–applying continuous pressure like a strong underwater current, so that by the end of a conversation, even two minutes on the phone, you found yourself far out from where you’d started, unsure how you got there, and mysteriously exhausted.

Author photo

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Knopf. 38 photos and 3 maps.
592 pages. $30 ISBN 978-0-307-95802-0

To interview the author, contact:
Erinn Hartman | 212-572-2345 | ehartman@penguinrandomhouse.com