Derek Chollet and Samantha Power, eds., The Unquiet American: Richard Holbrooke in the World (New York: PublicAffairs, 2011), 400 pp., $29.99.
The Unquiet American: Richard Holbrooke in the World WHEN RICHARD Holbrooke died unexpectedly in December 2010, he left behind a large contingent of friends and admirers who revered the man, his contributions in the realm of foreign policy and his geopolitical outlook. This memorial volume gives testament to that esteem by presenting essays by friends and colleagues as well as Holbrooke’s own writings over the decades. Editors Derek Chollet and Samantha Power succeed in providing a reasonably insightful portrait of Holbrooke the man as well as the foreign policy that he both shaped and embodied.
But a corrective is in order. Holbrooke’s actions and philosophy were problematic in many ways. It does no great service to Holbrooke, and certainly not to his country, to modulate or ignore the controversy generated by his particular geopolitical views—or, for that matter, by the brash, impatient and often bullying demeanor he projected in the course of his official duties. Whatever one thinks of his philosophy or his personal style, it can’t be denied that Holbrooke was a powerful figure who left a large mark, for good and ill, on American foreign policy.