George Packer, "Our Man," with Phil Klay
June 18, 2019, 7:30 PM
George Packer joins us at The Berkeley Carrol School's Marlene Clary Performance Space to discuss Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century with Phil Klay.
About Our Man:
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.
George Packer is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, which was a New York Times best seller and winner of the 2013 National Book Award. His other nonfiction books include The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq, a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize, and Blood of the Liberals, winner of the 2001 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He is also the author of two novels and a play, Betrayed, winner of the 2008 Lucille Lortel Award, and the editor of a two-volume edition of the essays of George Orwell.
Phil Klay is a graduate of Dartmouth College and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in Iraq’s Anbar Province from January 2007 to February 2008 as a Public Affairs Officer. After being discharged he received an MFA from Hunter College of The City University of New York. Klay’s New York Times-bestselling short story collection Redeployment won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2014. Klay’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and the Brookings Institution’s Brookings Essay series.