Richard Holbrooke was the lead negotiator during the Dayton peace talks that ended the Bosnian conflict during the mid 90’s. The book describes both the shuttle diplomacy process and the Dayton talks in great detail. This unparalleled point of view into the negotiations leaves the reader with an increased understanding about American diplomacy, foreign policy, and internal governmental operations.
The most powerful aspect of the book is that it is written from the perspective of Holbrooke. The reader gets a direct view into the mind of the lead negotiator, and Holbrooke’s intelligence and abilities are on full display throughout. He possesses the unique ability to explain complex political issues in a way that makes sense and is engaging to the reader. Despite the power of this point of view, it is obvious that Holbrooke is biased on many issues, including his aloofness towards some European officials and his very negative opinions of the Bosnians and Admiral Smith, who was the head of IFOR forces during the implementation process of the Dayton accords.
Some of the most insightful parts of the book are the primary source documents he inserts at various points. These passages give the reader a heightened sense of the situation, and were always used to enhance the surrounding material. Another effective aspect is the structure of the book into different sub-books. This structure, along with the Mount Igman incident at the beginning, transforms this informative diplomatic book into a true page turner.Also, the conclusion providing the greater implications of the Dayton accords was a powerful way to end the book. Overall, Holbrooke truly achieved an excellent end result with this work.