Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century


This year, New America celebrates 20 years of creating and incubating the next big ideas that address some of the nation's and the world’s toughest problems. We are thinkers, researchers, problem-solvers, and storytellers, united by our goal to hold our nation to its highest ideals. We recognize the challenges presented by rapid technological and social change, and work to ensure that the solutions made possible by those changes lead to greater opportunity for all. As we reach forward toward the next 20 years of New America, we will strive to be an engine of American renewal, at home and abroad.

From the award-winning author of The Unwinding—the vividly told saga of the ambition, idealism, and hubris of one of the most legendary and complicated figures in recent American history, set amid the rise and fall of U.S. power from Vietnam to Afghanistan.

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.

Join the New America's National Fellows Program and International Security Program for a conversation with George Packer, New America National Fellow and author of Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century, and Peter Bergen, Vice President of the Global Studies and Fellows at New America, about the life and significance of one of America’s most fascinating diplomats.

Follow the conversation online using #OurMan and following@NAFellows and @NewAmericaISP.


George Packer

2017 National Fellow, New America

Peter Bergen, @peterbergencnn
Vice President, Global Studies & Fellows, New America

Copies of Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century will be available for purchase through our bookselling partner Solid State Books.