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War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence
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War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  2,672 ratings  ·  386 reviews
American diplomacy is under siege. Offices across the State Department sit empty, while abroad the military-industrial complex has assumed the work once undertaken by peacemakers. We’re becoming a nation that shoots first and asks questions later.

In an astonishing account ranging from Washington, D.C., to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and North Korea in the years since 9/11, accl
Hardcover, 392 pages
Published April 24th 2018 by W. W. Norton Company
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Alan Tomkins-Raney Nothing. I puzzled over the same thing for way too long before deciding that it must have been an error that escaped the proof reader's or editor's…moreNothing. I puzzled over the same thing for way too long before deciding that it must have been an error that escaped the proof reader's or editor's notice. I finally just let it go and moved on with the book. (less)

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May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: usa, politics, 2018-read
Yes, it's true that with this book, Pulitzer Prize winner Ronan Farrow shines a light on how the US has been decimating and sidelining its State Department for years, although - hey, kids! - diplomacy is crucial. But while this is of course an important point to make, it also amounts to stating the obvious, so I would argue that what makes this book so insightful and relevant is how Farrow takes his readers inside the political, military and diplomatic entanglements of some of the most complex i ...more
Who could have known Ronan Farrow would develop into such a remarkable thinker? He credits his mother, of whom he speaks with genuine awe in his voice. Not only has 30-year-old Ronan Farrow been a diplomat, in his early twenties working closely with Richard Holbrooke, special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the midst of American’s longest war, but just last year he broke the story published in The New Yorker which set America on a new trajectory for gender relations.

War on Peace is an exam
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Study of the sidelining of the U.S. State Department by the military and intelligence communities. Farrow is a bit of a renaissance man - he was the investigative journalist who helped break the Harvey Weinstein abuse story, and former Special Advisor to the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke.

Farrow has an incredible ability to get access - he has somehow managed to interview every living secretary of state since Kissinger. While he obviously cannot cover ever
3.5/4 Stars

To start with a very brief negative, I would say that the structure was a little hard to follow. From what I could tell, Farrow structures the book mainly around the countries whose foreign relations he discusses. I'm sure this structure would be easier to follow while reading a physical copy of the book, but as an audiobook listen, it was occasionally disorienting when he jumped from Pakistan to Somalia.

However, I think the positives far outweigh the negatives in this insanely well-r
May 12, 2018 marked it as to-read
Shelves: tweet-diplomacy
Ronan on playing "nice" with North Korea:

-"we're flying blind now"
-"they often lie"
-"risk: we get played"
-"they cheat"

Let's hope for the better on the 12th June.

Et Voilá:

Riley Haas
May 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
This is a deeply flawed but fascinating book about the decline of the US foreign service and US diplomacy and general, the the ebbing of US influence as the American Empire slowly ends.
Farrow was an employee of the State Department at one point and perhaps he was too close to his subject. The first 100 or so pages are essentially an apologia for his boss, Richard Holbrooke. Holbrooke is no longer around to defend himself so Farrow seems to have taken it upon himself. I don't think it necessarily
Jill Mackin
An excellent book of investigative journalism. The ongoing deterioration of the State Department and rise of Militarism as foreign policy.
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Riveting book I couldn’t put down

War on Peace” is a riveting and thought-provoking book exploring the reasons behind the declining, though one hopes not dying, art and craft of US foreign diplomacy negotiation. Ronan Farrow, former US State Department diplomat and current journalist, details how the use of diplomacy has diminished over the last several presidencies, at the hands of ever increasing military power that is now used by the US as a replacement to foreign diplomacy. This trend starte
Apr 26, 2018 marked it as maybe

Tillerson parroted China talking points written by Kushner. Rachel Maddoow looks at past reporting on Jared Kushner's sketchy meetings with Chinese officials, and notes the tie-in to a scoop in Ronan Farrow's new book "War on Peace" that found Kushner to be the source of Rex Tillerson remarks parroting China's preferred perspective on U.S. China relations.

Farrow is a high-flyer with a very rosy future.
Steven Z.
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
The advent of the Trump presidency has wreaked havoc with the traditional American approach to foreign policy that has been in place roughly for the last seventy years. Under the leadership of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson the Foreign Service has been gutted as have the careers of life long diplomats leaving the United States with a lack of qualified personnel to conduct the daily work of the State Department, an essential component for an effective foreign policy. This is in large par ...more
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
Jun 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Ronan Farrow is an investigative journalist who began his career as a State department staffer. In this book he makes the case that the State department has been minimized over the years, to the detriment of our country and security.

The emphasis throughout the book is on how and why diplomatic negotiations have been shuttled off to Defense and Intelligence, as opposed to civilian diplomacy under the State Department. In his mind this approach began with the Clinton administration, continued thro
Lubinka Dimitrova
This world is doomed.

Doomed to be destroyed by the morons we elect to rule us. By the morons who elect morons to rule over them and over the fate of the planet. It only remains to be seen how it will all end.
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ronan Farrow is a genius and US foreign policy is generally horrifying.

That's it, that's the review.

No, in all seriousness, this was a super fascinating read and definitely gave me more of an understanding of the ever-growing decline in diplomacy and increase in military use in US foreign policy. Ronan Farrow does an incredible job with this seriously well-sourced book. He got so, so many people on the record, not just every living US Secretary of State, a plethora of diplomats, and a couple of
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
Clear, sharp, intelligent, to-the-point and sometimes even emotional account of the state of Diplomacy in the largest empire in the history of the world. The demise of the State Department and its peace-bringing mission is told through interviews and stories. READ IT.
Ml Lalonde
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This dense, gripping, impossibly detailed account of the decline of American diplomacy leaves me wondering how a single country can give birth to both Donald Trump and Ronan Farrow. How does this young scholar, investigative journalist and public servant even coexist in the same air space as Trump's government? You'll be hiding under the bed to read this. One wonders if the ancient Romans knew their empire was declining while it was happening. Thanks to Ronan Farrow, the Americans will know for ...more
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that will keep you up at night. I know it did me. At every turn, we have f'ed things up -- Nixon put off ending Vietnam in order to get reelected; Reagan made Colombian drug lords richer in the name of counterterrorism; Clinton started slashing our civilian presence in the world & cut the budgets to State at the same levels Trump has today; G W Bush turned diplomacy over to the Pentagon & could've ended the Afghan war (by talking to the Taliban), but the milita ...more
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a must read for anyone who is interested in the state of the world today. It is a fascinating and sometimes frightening look at the decline of diplomacy in the modern era.
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amidst the breakdown of the Iran nuclear deal and an imminent detente with North Korea, this book is a timely review of American foreign policy in (mostly) the post-Vietnam era. In the prologue itself, Farrow makes it clear that the Trump presidency has only accelerated the sclerosis of the State department which started as early as Bush 1 and continued through Clinton, Bush 2, and even Obama,
in favor of a more militarized approach to geopolitical quagmires.

Much of the book analyses diplomacy th
Doug Orleans
I read this for a book club, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have read it otherwise, but I don't regret reading it. I wasn't wowed, though...

It's a weird mish-mash of personal memoirs of Farrow's time in the state department working on Pakistan relations, a biography of Richard Holbrooke's last years, investigative reporting (about the mass graves in Afghanistan shortly after we went to war there, and about a British teenager who joined al-Shabaab in Somalia), and a general survey of the effects
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good but not great. First, what makes it good?

Farrow notes with detail about how presidents of both parties, from Bill Clinton on, have contributed toward an increased use of the military as a tool of, or substitute for, diplomacy. He spells out specific instances of this. Second, he notes that, without wielding a meat-ax, State could use some budget trimming and reorganization as well. By focusing on Holbrooke, and his being knee-capped, Farrow shows one possible specific way in which reorganiz
Rach H
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’m still a newbie to current politics, and this is my first foray into the politics of the last few decades—Ronan’s writing is extremely engaging and accessible, and made this first foray very enjoyable. The story he tells is fascinating, and I learned a lot. I definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in the subject, and definitely to anyone who, like me, is just beginning to dip their toes into politics—I think it’s incredibly important for us all to understand the essentialness of ...more
Scott Rhee
Diplomacy is dead. This is the main take-away of Ronan Farrow’s recent book “War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence”, a frightening look at the first stages of a growing new world military order and the death of hope for mankind.

The book starts with the Mahogany Row Massacre, the name given to Trump’s sweeping blanket firing within the State Department during his initial first weeks in office. Virtually every ambassador, diplomat, and consultant that was involve
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Farrow writes from his experience in the U.S. State Department. He traces problems across multiple administrations, giving special focus to Richard Holbrooke, who helped bring Farrow on board at the State Dept., and whose story gives "a window into what was lost when we turned away from a profession that once saved us."Immediately after Holbrooke's sudden death in late 2010, Farrow says, is when the US lost the relationship with Pakistan and the war in Afghanistan.

In the Bush administration, aft
Alex Acton
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Let's begin by noting that this book wasn't what I thought it was going to be. While promoting the release, Mr. Farrow made a point of mentioning that he'd interviewed every living Sec. of State. Somehow that translated in my head to mean that the book would be a series of pontifications from elder statesmen about the state of the world. I read this immediately following Madeleine Albright's new book, Fascism, expecting more of the same

I was very wrong. Instead, Mr. Farrow pulls the curtain back
I really enjoyed this one although there were moments initially where a few of the people seemed to be written as caricatures, for instance the Ambassador to Pakistan accused of espionage, and the tone was a bit too gossipy. Shortly after though the author seemed to settle into his argument and this came across in a leveling of tone and slightly more developed players in Parts 2 and 3.

The subject itself is broad in scope and the people interviewed cover the relevant perspectives BUT I wanted mo
L.E. Fidler

First, let me just say that I love Ronan Farrow's writing voice. I could read his voice all day.

Which is good, because it took me FOREVER to get through this book.

Now, not because the book is bad; the book is excellent. Or at least thought-provoking and insightful and intelligent. It's not perfect, but it's compelling.

It took forever because EVERY TIME Farrow introduced someone, I had to Google them (and, in one particular case, wedding photos to see some "70s velvet" promised by the boo
Todd Wright
Oct 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Farrow is an engaging writer and is able to make most of the inside baseball at the State Department fairly interesting. That said, he is not persuasive, it is easy to agree with his facts but dismiss his conclusion. Not a great book but one that most people should read.

Part one is filled with gossip and a brief biography of Richard Holbrook’s who Farrow portrays as a cross between Rasputin and Talleyrand with the social graces of Jabba the Hutt. This is the weakest part of the book.

Throughout t
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is an incredibly insightful foray into American foreign policy over the last two decades, specifically in regard to Afghanistan and Pakistan. I greatly enjoyed the personal relationships Farrow let us in on, as with Robin Raphael and Richard Holbrooke (although Farrow seems like an apologist for him at times, as others have noted). I learned so much from reading this and I am 100% convinced that Farrow's message is right: we need a return to civilian-dominated diplomacy as opposed to t ...more
Alan Tomkins-Raney
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
It is disheartening to read of the degree to which the Trump administration has intentionally gutted the State Department, going far beyond sidelining the diplomatic corps by purging it of experts and isolating it from foreign policy development and implementation. China is “eating our lunch today, and president Trump has invited it because he thinks our retreat is some kind of accomplishment. If China can mature as a diplomatic power as rapidly as it has as a force for economic development, Ame ...more
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Along with The New York Times, The New Yorker shared the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, winning for Ronan Farrow's reporting on the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
“I know that war is the failure of diplomacy and the failure of leaders to make alternative decisions.” 2 likes
“He ran long at the White House, and arrived late to his next meeting with Hillary Clinton, Jake Sullivan and Frank Ruggiero—their first major strategy session on Taliban talks after the secret meeting with A-Rod. She was waiting in her outer office, a spacious room paneled in white and gilt wood, with tasseled blue and pink curtains and an array of colorfully upholstered chairs and couches. In my time reporting to her later, I only ever saw Clinton take the couch, with guests of honor in the large chair kitty-corner to her. She’d left it open for him that day. “He came rushing in. . . . ” Clinton later said. “And, you know, he was saying ‘oh I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.’ ” He sat down heavily and shrugged off his coat, rattling off a litany of his latest meetings, including his stop-in at the White House. “That was typical Richard. It was, like, ‘I’m doing a million things and I’m trying to keep all the balls in the air,’ ” she remembered. As he was talking, a “scarlet red” flush went up his face, according to Clinton. He pressed his hands over his eyes, his chest heaving. “Richard, what’s the matter?” Clinton asked. “Something horrible is happening,” he said. A few minutes later, Holbrooke was in an ambulance, strapped to a gurney, headed to nearby George Washington University Hospital, where Clinton had told her own internist to prepare the emergency room. In his typically brash style, he’d demanded that the ambulance take him to the more distant Sibley Memorial Hospital. Clinton overruled him. One of our deputies on the SRAP team, Dan Feldman, rode with him and held his hand. Feldman didn’t have his BlackBerry, so he scrawled notes on a State Department expense form for a dinner at Meiwah Restaurant as Holbrooke dictated messages and a doctor assessed him. The notes are a nonlinear stream of Holbrooke’s indomitable personality, slashed through with medical realities. “Call Eric in Axelrod’s office,” the first read. Nearby: “aortic dissection—type A . . . operation risk @ > 50 percent”—that would be chance of death. A series of messages for people in his life, again interrupted by his deteriorating condition: “S”—Secretary Clinton—“why always together for medical crises?” (The year before, he’d been with Clinton when she fell to the concrete floor of the State Department garage, fracturing her elbow.) “Kids—how much love them + stepkids” . . . “best staff ever” . . . “don’t let him die here” . . . “vascular surgery” . . . “no flow, no feeling legs” . . . “clot” . . . and then, again: “don’t let him die here want to die at home w/ his fam.” The seriousness of the situation fully dawning on him, Holbrooke turned to job succession: “Tell Frank”—Ruggiero—“he’s acting.” And finally: “I love so many people . . . I have a lot left to do . . . my career in public service is over.” Holbrooke cracked wise until they put him under for surgery. “Get me anything you need,” he demanded. “A pig’s heart. Dan’s heart.” 0 likes
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