Synopses & Reviews
When President Clinton sent Richard Holbrooke to Bosnia as America's chief negotiator in late 1995, he took a gamble that would eventually redefine his presidency. But there was no saying then, at the height of the war, that Holbrooke's mission would succeed. The odds were strongly against it.
As passionate as he was controversial, Holbrooke believed that the only way to bring peace to the Balkans was through a complex blend of American leadership, aggressive and creative diplomacy, and a willingness to use force, if necessary, in the cause for peace. This was not a universally popular view. Resistance was fierce within the United Nations and the chronically divided Contact Group, and in Washington, where many argued that the United States should not get more deeply involved. This book is Holbrooke's gripping inside account of his mission, of the decisive months when, belatedly and reluctantly but ultimately decisively, the United States reasserted its moral authority and leadership and ended Europe's worst war in over half a century. To End a War reveals many important new details of how America made this historic decision.
What George F. Kennan has called Holbrooke's "heroic efforts" were shaped by the enormous tragedy with which the mission began, when three of his four team members were killed during their first attempt to reach Sarajevo. In Belgrade, Sarajevo, Zagreb, Paris, Athens, and Ankara, and throughout the dramatic roller-coaster ride at Dayton, he tirelessly imposed, cajoled, and threatened in the quest to stop the killing and forge a peace agreement. Holbrooke's portraits of the key actors, from officials in the White House and the Élysée Palace to the leaders in the Balkans, are sharp and unforgiving. His explanation of how the United States was finally forced to intervene breaks important new ground, as does his discussion of the near disaster in the early period of the implementation of the Dayton agreement.
To End a War is a brilliant portrayal of high-wire, high-stakes diplomacy in one of the toughest negotiations of modern times. A classic account of the uses and misuses of American power, its lessons go far beyond the boundaries of the Balkans and provide a powerful argument for continued American leadership in the modern world.
About the Author
Richard Holbrooke began his diplomatic career in Vietnam in 1962, serving in the Mekong Delta and the American embassy in Saigon. After a tour on President Johnson's White House staff in 1966-67, he wrote one volume of the Pentagon Papers, served as special assistant to Undersecretaries of State Nicholas Katzenbach and Elliot Richardson, and was a member of the American delegation to the Paris peace talks on Vietnam. Holbrooke was Peace Corps director in Morocco from 1970 to 1972 and managing editor of Foreign Policy from 1972 to 1976. He served as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (1977-81) and U.S. Ambassador to Germany (1993-94). He was Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs from 1994 to 1996, when he became the chief architect of the Dayton Peace Accords. He is co-author of Clark Clifford's memoir, Counsel to the President, and is currently a vice chairman of Credit Suisse First Boston, based in New York. He is married to the author Kati Marton and has two sons, David and Anthony.