Richard Holbrooke, Thirsting for a Role in History





LONDON — It was the worst of times in the siege of Sarajevo. No venture outside the Holiday Inn, which had become a media fastness in a city under siege, was safe from the daily staccato of sniper fire, mortars and artillery shells. And there at my door, in the first winter of the war, was Richard C. Holbrooke, asking if he could borrow space on my floor for him and his sleeping bag....

He had come to experience for himself Europe’s first war since the 1940s — and to prepare for a role he felt sure he would be offered, as part of an American-led bid to end it....

He was America’s most seasoned envoy, a consummate insider tempered by nearly a half-century of deal-making in Saigon and Manila, Kabul and Islamabad, and many other capitals. But he coupled that with something that explains why the discord and active dislike he prompted among some of his colleagues found scant resonance among reporters he met along the way, many of whom he courted assiduously, and many of whom became friends....



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