• The only reason I bought and read this book was the excerpt published in the Atlantic which noted some parallels between 1990s’ Balkans and 2010s’, well, the world, which I was already mulling in my head. Turns out that’s the best part of the book.
  • The rest is uneven. Holbrooke was a slime ball of a human and his accomplishments were nil, yet Packer still manages to make the book into a hagiography. Which I guess is an accomplishment.
  • Did Holbrooke truly think that his memos would change the world? In the Gervais Principle hierarchy, he was a clueless posing as a sociopath.
  • Packer’s account of the Dayton negotiations confirms that the only reason a deal was made was that Milošević wanted it at any cost. The agreement was for Holbrooke to mess up, and he almost did, multiple times.
  • There is mention of HBO buying rights to make a show out of Holbrooke’s account of the Bosnian was. I haven’t read “To End a War”, but I like the idea of the Dayton negotiations being the centerpiece of a mini-series, with flash backs to each individual warlord’s (and Dick’s) messy history. Someone please give the idea to Damon Lindelof after he’s done with Watchmen.

Written by George Packer, 2019

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