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To End a War

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  339 Ratings  ·  31 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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Dec 28, 2010 Merilee rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 15, 2013 Robert rated it really liked it
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
Charis Flanders
Holbrooke makes a powerful case for aggressive, high-stakes diplomacy as he delineates in surprising detail the path to the Dayton Agreement and its implementation. Though his writing is utilitarian to a fault, his candid remarks on his own failures as well as on those of his superiors is refreshing. In his extraordinarily prescient concluding remarks (given the explosion of the Middle East and his own involvement more than a decade later in Afghanistan and Pakistan) he states, "There will be ot ...more
Andrew Goldsmith
May 27, 2015 Andrew Goldsmith rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 26, 2015 Carol Billings rated it really liked it
Shelves: croatia-slovenia
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
Jun 28, 2015 Daniel rated it really liked it
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.
Lucia Boxelaar
Apr 27, 2016 Lucia Boxelaar rated it really liked it
Holbrooke's account provides a fascinating insight into the Bosnian war, the life of a diplomat, and what happens in peace negotiations like Dayton. It is unavoidably a contested perspective, and I don't agree with everything (eg Holbrooke's concept of Europe), and some things are puzzling (relatively benign view of Milosevic), but overall an excellent read.
Nov 11, 2014 Marc rated it really liked it
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.
Corey Holmes
Mar 20, 2016 Corey Holmes rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best diplomatic books out there. One can only wonder what Holbrooke would have been like as top diplomat. Chapter 20 is inspiring for academics and diplomats alike striving to help change the world.
Feb 26, 2011 Kelly rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 20, 2012 Ljiljana Stancic rated it really liked it
Shelves: balkans, non-fiction
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
Jan 28, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it
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!
Mar 05, 2013 Libby rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 01, 2012 Willa rated it it was ok
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...
Mar 23, 2013 Roxanne rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
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
Nov 11, 2014 Olivier Lepetit rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 15, 2008 Amy Ostermeier rated it really liked it
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!
May 28, 2010 Rayrumtum rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
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.
Jan 29, 2012 Sebastian rated it really liked it
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
Apr 22, 2013 Ryan Elliott rated it really liked it
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
Jul 13, 2009 Emma Mekinda rated it really liked it
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
Sep 19, 2013 Melanie Kreidich rated it liked it
Great book. Upon reflection, this might have been the last successful peacekeeping mission.
Dec 31, 2007 Dragana rated it it was amazing
Diplomatic and writerly whiz. Makes Dayton Peace Agreement read like adventure.
Jul 17, 2008 Phoebe rated it really liked it
Dick Holbrooke talks about the diplomatic effort to end the war in the Balkans
Oct 26, 2012 Toni rated it liked it
Very readable. Slightly over-simplified and one-sided account.
Chelsea Bunton
Jan 30, 2010 Chelsea Bunton rated it it was amazing
This is a tough read, but it is definitely worth it!
Cameron Moss
Sep 15, 2008 Cameron Moss rated it it was amazing

the "13 days" of the clinton administration.
Mar 17, 2011 Heidi rated it it was amazing
RIP Richard Holbrooke
Apr 05, 2011 McKenna rated it it was amazing
Aug 06, 2011 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars
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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.” 2 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.” 1 likes
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