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To End a War

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  273 ratings  ·  28 reviews
When President Clinton sent Richard Holbrooke to Bosnia as America's chief negotiator in late 1995, he took a gamble that would eventually redefine his presidency. But there was no saying then, at the height of the war, that Holbrooke's mission would succeed. The odds were strongly against it.
As passionate as he was controversial, Holbrooke believed that the only way to br
Paperback, 464 pages
Published May 25th 1999 by Modern Library (first published January 1st 1998)
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I started this over a year ago and somehow put it down without getting very far, but not because it wasn't good. I think my French Revolution enthusiasm took me away from my Balkan enthusiasm - temporarily. Now that we have so sadly lost this brilliant diplomat, I think it's time to begin the book again.

This book is excellent, and especially interesting in these days of debating whether or not WikiLeaks is a good or bad thing. The amount of negotiating and diplomacy that Holbrooke had to underta
Richard Holbrooke’s account of his efforts to bring peace to the Balkans--To End A War--is a candid, detailed, and thoughtful study of the practical challenges diplomats (helped by soldiers and backed-up by policymakers) face in the post-Cold War world.
When what we used to know as Yugoslavia broke up in the early 1990s, violent struggles broke out engaging Croatians, Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Croatians, and the major remaining power in the region, Serbia.
These struggles were as
Andrew Goldsmith
Insightful account on international diplomacy, American foreign affairs have sustained a great loss with the author's untimely death. His wife's recent book on life after Richard Holbrooke and her love of Paris may well be on my future reading list as I too love Paris and happen to be working here just now, I feel she had a bigger hand in supporting and encouraging the diplomacy than was credited or possible to credit. Other interesting characters in the book are Churchill's ex- daughter in law, ...more
Carol Billings
I read this book because I am going to Croatia and Slovenia on a short holiday next spring and wanted to learn more about the political issues and why there is conflict in that part of the world. I am woefully ignorant of world politics but for the past few years have been trying to improve my knowledge. This is an amazing book from that perspective. I found it hard going, not at all due to the writing style but only because I could not keep the names of the players lined up. I didn't realize un ...more
valuable insights from the man who helped forge the Dayton Accords to end the war in Bosnia. His writings displayed how invaluable American leadership is to European peace and the intersections of domestic politics and foreign affairs. What I found most fascinating was his descriptions of Milosevic, who in another life would fit in perfectly as an American politician.
Holbrook tells a great story, although a bit self serving, of a very unique diplomatic period of time. The efforts are view by most parties and all sides as being successful, which adds a touch of authority to this book.
A riveting account of diplomacy to stop the war in Bosnia. I found it particularly telling how much the behaviour of the politicians and diplomats reflected the psyche of their nations. Surprisingly, I developed some respect towards Milosevic, relative to other presidents

I liked the forthright views of Holbrooke and his sudden death triggered the interest to learn more about his signature diplomatic breakthrough in Dayton. Some reckoned that was an achievement worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize. I
Ljiljana Stancic
Holbrooke may have been quite a self-absorbed narrator but this book still reads like an essential handbook for American peace negotiators and also provides a rare insight into the thinking of a variety of Balkan political figures of the period. It confirms that there is a method to every madness and also explains (also in the title) what the Dayton Peace Agreement is not: a peace agreement. One often hears that the Pax Americana did not bring much good to Bosnia, an argument that would be more ...more
So, I'm catching up on the Balkan wars more than a decade late. I felt this was a good foray into some of the issues -- it's easy to read, it's all in the first person given RH's position at Dayton, and it's a relatively quick read, although with a bit too much detail at times. Some of it is defensive and some of it I just don't believe, but I'm inclined to say this was good introductory material. If you have other suggestions, please forward. Thanks!
I don't normally read political history, therefore I was surprised at how quickly this book drew me in. Even though the outcome of his work as a negotiator is known, Holbrooke still managed to capture the sense of urgency and uncertainty that accompanied the Dayton negotiations. The book IS very American-centered; I'd love to read an account from one of the Balkan participants in the talk.
This book gives a valuable insight into the goings on at Dayton, however I found it hard to get past the well-meant and largely unconscious narcissism of the author. Holbrooke did a great deed in pushing through this peace agreement, and I have no less respect for his great character and achievements, but reading this is a bit like seeing a bad movie adaptation of a treasured book...
Read this for my International Mediation course. It is a page-turner and it provides some fascinating insight into the world of US mediation in the conflict in Bosnia. That said, it can appear self-congratulatory at times (as all such memoirs can be) and it doesn't necessarily adequately portray the Bosnian or Serbian perspectives of the conflict.
Olivier Lepetit
Absolutely brilliant book, fast paced and has that real feeling of history being written as the events unfold. Opened my eyes on a war that was distant and yet so close. Echoes of the more recent Ukrainian-Russian secessionist war kept ringing through my head as I read.
Amy Ostermeier
This is the only book I've read that makes working in a bureaucracy (ie - the State Department) seem exciting. :) A great book, though I have to think that Holbrook's recollection of his own work is a bit grandiose at times. Will give ya an interesting look as well at Kosovo, the world's newest country!
A good history of the final year of the war in the Balkans. The ever modest Holbrooke explains why he is right and everyone else is wrong and why foreign interventions are fine. Could have served as a rationale for Bush's misadventure in Iraq.
A rare insight into the mind of an American diplomat, a combination of naivity, skills, arrogance and guts. I'm not a fan of Holbrooke and his achievements (or lack of), but I did enjoy reading the book.
Ryan Elliott
Gave me a high insight into the intricacies of government negotiators. I dreaded it because it was so long but once I got to the last paragraph I realized it was one of the best books I've ever read.
Emma Mekinda
Fascinating behind-the-scenes account of the Balkan war! Having visited the region, it was riveting to hear about the war and the subtleties of foreign diplomacy... a must read.
Melanie Kreidich
Great book. Upon reflection, this might have been the last successful peacekeeping mission.
Diplomatic and writerly whiz. Makes Dayton Peace Agreement read like adventure.
Dick Holbrooke talks about the diplomatic effort to end the war in the Balkans
Very readable. Slightly over-simplified and one-sided account.
Chelsea Bunton
This is a tough read, but it is definitely worth it!
Cameron Moss

the "13 days" of the clinton administration.
RIP Richard Holbrooke
Mar 23, 2013 Haled added it
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Richard C. Holbrooke was the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan under President Barack Obama. He served as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, where he was also a member of President Clinton’s cabinet (1999-2001). As Assistant Secretary of State for Europe (1994-1996), he was the chief architect of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the war in Bosnia. ...more
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“The negotiations were simultaneously cerebral and physical, abstract and personal, something like a combination of chess and mountain climbing.” 1 likes
“People hated to take their disagreements to the President; it was as though a failure to agree somehow reflected badly on each of them, and consensus, rather than clarity, was often the highest goal of the process.” 0 likes
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