Richard Holbrooke

By James Fallows

Over the next few days people will describe the achievements, the talents, and the outsized personality of Richard Holbrooke, who has just died after prolonged surgery for an aortic tear. I will try to do so in a while too.

At the moment I'm simply shocked, despite news that he had been critically ill, because Holbrooke is -- "was" -- a person who radiated so much energy, ambition, curiosity, planning, and all-directions activity at all times that it is hard to imagine him ever at rest. Everyone who knows him will find tactful ways of saying that Dick Holbrooke could be an outrageous, scheming, quintuple-chess-game-playing, highly self-regarding figure. But he was also unquestionably talented enough, public spirited enough, dedicated enough, and passionate enough to have people willingly embrace the whole package of his room-filling self.

I am thinking of a dozen stories now, starting in the early 1970s when he was editor of Foreign Policy magazine and I was a fledgling freelance writer for him. (Or when, a few years later, I had the odd experience of welcoming him to Plains, Georgia as part of the Carter campaign team.) I will store them up for another time. He was a tremendous force, overall for the betterment of American interests and the world's. My sympathies to his wife Kati and the rest of his family.  It's routine to say this, but in this case it's really so: his absence will be felt.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2010/12/richard-holbrooke/67965/