CLICK TO SHARE
Review: The Heart and Hypocrisy of the American Empire The Heart and Hypocrisy of the American Empi...
Richard Holbrooke was an apostle, and his creed was America. Although experience left Holbrooke’s faith chastened, it never abandoned him. In the beginning, Holbrooke was a champion of progress, fighting for freedom in Vietnam in a war he considered the moral equivalent of the civil rights movement. By the end, the horizons of ambition had closed. Disbelieving in the prospects for military victory and convinced that development initiatives were engorging a corrupt Afghan state, Holbrooke turned to face the Taliban and tried to cut a deal.
Spanning half a century, the course of U.S. global power from Vietnam to Afghanistan represents a prolonged imperial twilight. After the clarity of the high Cold War, when presidents ranged light against dark and freedom against slavery, Vietnam ushered in a more ambiguous phase. The United States remained preponderant, but Vietnam left Americans humbled, capable of tolerating only interludes of elevated imperial hubris. It is this late phase of empire that the journalist George Packer traverses in his marvelous new book. Centered on the personality of Richard Holbrooke, Our Man deploys the career of a prominent diplomat to comprehend the character of an era.
Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century George Packer, Knopf, 608 pp., $30, May 2019
But why Holbrooke? Why should he command our attention in a door-stopping biography from one of America’s finest writers? Why not George Shultz, Condoleezza Rice, or James Mattis, none of whom has received comparable literary testament? (Colin Powell, another self-evident titan, is the subject of a new biography, but that book has not received the attention that Packer’s new biography of Holbrooke is generating.)
Post a comment.
CLICK TO SHARE