Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century
No one understands the diverse, vibrant, and conflicted American tapestry quite like George Packer. A sterling journalist and National Book Award-winning author, Packer’s New York Times bestselling book, The Unwinding, and now Our Man, offer sweeping analyses of America through the lens of political figures and landmark historical moments. “If you could read only one book to comprehend America’s foreign policy and its quixotic forays into quicksands over the past 50 years, this would be it,” says Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson in his glowing New York Times Book Review cover story. Packer’s gripping keynotes are no different.
In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, the Times chose George Packer’s The Unwinding as a key book “To Help You Understand Trump’s Win.” Now Packer’s notion of ‘unwinding’—the rise of populism, institutional collapse, and the unraveling of the American Dream—is more bracingly relevant than ever. His new book, Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century—being hailed as a complex depiction of a nation in global crisis—is a vivid saga of the ambition, idealism, and hubris of Richard Holbrooke, one of the most legendary and complicated figures in recent American history. The Times says “Our Man not only revitalizes but in some ways reinvents the art of journalistic biography.” In talks drawn from his lucid yet optimistic reporting, Packer offers a deeply informative perspective for anyone seeking to comprehend the political and cultural forces making the country what it is today—and how it affects us in ways we could never have predicted.
“[The Unwinding] is an epic—wondrous, bracing, and true—that will stand as the defining book of our time.”— Dexter Filkins, author of The Forever War
Currently a staff writer with The Atlantic, and formerly a staff writer at The New Yorker, Packer’s National Book Award-winning The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, was called a “professional work of journalism that also happens to be more intimate and textured—and certainly more ambitious—than most contemporary works of U.S. fiction dare to be” by The Los Angeles Times. In it, Packer explores his vast and varied knowledge of America throughout history, showing why things happened the way they did, and what we can do to help create a more equitable nation when so much infrastructure and justice-minded guidance is lacking. In 2019, Slate named The Unwinding one of the “Top 50 Nonfiction Titles of the Past 25 Years”. Packer is the 2019 recipient of the Hitchens Prize; given in memory of the late Christopher Hitchens to a journalist or author who demonstrates a deep commitment to the pursuit of truth and free expression, without concern for professional or personal consequences.
Packer has published four other works of non-fiction: The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq; Interesting Times: Writings from a Turbulent Decade; Blood of the Liberals; and The Village of Waiting. He is also the author of two novels, The Half Man and Central Square, and a play, Betrayed. He is the editor of The Fight Is for Democracy: Winning the War of Ideas in America and the World, and of a two-volume edition of George Orwell’s essays. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a Holtzbrinck Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin.
“Our event last night was an over-the-top success. George drew an impressively large crowd; his talk was outstanding; my computer this morning was jammed with congratulatory e-mails. Last night ranks as one of our best events ever.”University of Missouri