01/12/2012 05:43 pm ET Updated Mar 13, 2012

Holbrooke's Saga

A remarkable book has just been published about one of America's most brilliant diplomats, Richard Holbrooke, entitled The Unquiet American (PublicAffairs Press). Holbrooke, who tragically died last year at age 69 trying to complete his last and perhaps most important mission -- ending the US war in Afghanistan -- was a fascinating, compelling, and magnetic individual.

The book, edited by a former aide, Derek Chollet, and the Pultizer-Prize winning journalist, Samantha Power, captures the essence of the Holbrooke persona that dazzled the foreign policy community with its drive, intelligence, wiliness, humor, intense curiosity and characteristic dominance.

The editors have ingeniously assembled a series of short essays by people who knew Holbrooke in various stages of his career -- in Vietnam and at the Paris Peace talks, as a journalist and editor and writer, as the State Department's man on Asia, as the broker of peace at Dayton, as one of America's most formidable ambassadors to the UN, as the leader in the global fight against AIDs, and finally as the skilled emissary seeking to close down Al Qaeda's activities in South East Asia.

What is unique about this book is that the editors have also matched every professional recollection with a set of articles written by Holbrooke himself commenting on the same subjects, almost as if Holbrooke intended to mark down his own personal account of past events for posterity.

From my own vantage point, the editors also included Holbrooke's generous 2003 New York Times Sunday Book Review of my book, Act of Creation, on the 1945 San Francisco Conference that founded the UN. The resulting work is an astonishing look inside the mind and spirit of one of the great men of our time.