What We Are Reading Today: Our Man by George Packer

Updated 14 May 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Our Man by George Packer

Our Man is a deeply researched, compelling biography of Richard Holbrooke, arguably the most famous US diplomat since the Cold War. 

The peak of Holbrooke’s career came under former US President Bill Clinton, when he shuttled around the Balkans cajoling Bosnian warlords and Serbian war criminals to make peace. 

His work culminated with three weeks of negotiations in November 1995 at an Air Force base near Dayton, Ohio, where he pushed the Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic and others into a peace agreement. 

“Let’s give him his due. He ended a war,” Packer writes. “Diplomacy, real diplomacy, is not for the short of breath.”

In a review published in theguardian.com, Julian Borger said: “Our Man is not just a portrait of a fascinating historical figure, it is a contemplation of a half century of US foreign and security policy and its most intractable challenges: Counter-insurgency, humanitarian intervention and nation-building.”

 


What We Are Reading Today: The River Ki by Sawako Ariyoshi

Updated 51 min 23 sec ago
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What We Are Reading Today: The River Ki by Sawako Ariyoshi

The River Ki, short and swift and broad like most Japanese rivers, flows into the sea not far south of Osaka. On its journey seaward, it passes through countryside that has long been at the heart of the Japanese tradition. 

The River Ki dominates the lives of the people who live in its fertile valley and imparts a vital strength to the three women, mother, daughter and granddaughter, around whom this novel is built.

It provides them with the courage to cope, in their different ways, with the unprecedented changes that occurred in Japan between the last years of the last century and the middle of this century.

Sawako Ariyoshi, one of Japan’s most successful modern novelists, describes this social and cultural revolution largely through the eyes of Hana, a woman with the vision and integrity to understand the inevitability of the death of the traditional order in Japan, says a review published on googlereads.com.

Ariyoshi writes with a love for detail bound to a broader understanding of the importance of the geographical and biological forces that mold her characters — and the result is a story that flows with all the vitality of The River Ki itself.