Los Angeles Times

George Packer chronicles Richard Holbrooke's brilliance, ambition and arrogance

"Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century" by George Packer; Knopf (608 pages, $30)

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The first six times I met Richard Holbrooke, I needed to introduce myself. The seventh time we met was in 1983, shortly after I had been named the Wall Street Journal's managing editor. He not only knew who I was but recalled all our prior meetings. After a mutual friend assured me it wasn't personal - that Holbrooke was known for always looking over the shoulder of whomever he was speaking to - I decided to ignore the slights and see what happened.

The result was as rewarding as it was improbable. By the time of his death in

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