"The Diplomat" is the Story of Larger-than-Life Ambassador Richard Holbrooke

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23 October 2015
The Diplomat
 Courtesy of HBO
 "The Diplomat"
 Monday, November 2 (8:00-9:45 p.m. ET/PT) exclusively on HBO
Documentary Features Interviews With Madeleine Albright,
Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry,
Henry Kissinger, General David Petraeus And Samantha Power

            Ambassador Richard Holbrooke died unexpectedly from heart complications on Dec. 13, 2010. Shortly afterward, his eldest son, David Holbrooke, attempted the seemingly impossible: capturing the legacy of his influential father “to understand him better in death,” while traveling across the globe to reveal a behind-the-scenes view of U.S. foreign policy.

            Written and directed by David Holbrooke, the insightful and revealing documentary THE DIPLOMAT chronicles the political and personal life of the larger-than-life U.S. ambassador whose career spanned 50 years of American foreign policy, ranging from Vietnam, to Bosnia and Kosovo, to Afghanistan.

            Commemorating the 20th anniversary of one of Holbrooke’s greatest foreign policy achievements, The Dayton Peace Accords, THE DIPLOMAT debuts MONDAY, NOV. 2 (8:00-9:45 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO, with an encore presentation Saturday, Nov. 21 (5:15-7:00 p.m.) on HBO Signature, marking the date the peace agreement was signed.

            THE DIPLOMAT draws on access to Richard Holbrooke's personal archives, which include rare photos, letters, journals and exclusive audio recordings that are being heard for the first time, illustrating his public versus private personas and creating a sensitive portrait of fatherhood, ambition and the force required to effect change in the world.

            Holbrooke’s career spanned 50 years, encompassing landmarks of American foreign policy in such countries as Vietnam, Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. Holding a range of positions in both the public and private sectors, he served as Asst. Secretary of State for Asia (under President Jimmy Carter); U.S. Ambassador to Germany, Asst. Secretary of State for Europe and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (under President Bill Clinton); and U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan (under President Barack Obama). As an appointee of President Carter, Holbrooke became the youngest Asst. Secretary of State in history, cultivating a reputation as someone who “stepped on a lot of toes,” but was on the right side of issues.

            His career took him all over the world, often at the expense of family. Litty Holbrooke, Holbrooke’s first wife and David’s mother, admits that Holbrooke was “absent a lot.” When David had his own children, he was frustrated that his father didn’t have time for them. David’s younger brother, Anthony, agrees, noting, “It was about him so much of the time. Let’s be honest…his life was often more interesting.”

            THE DIPLOMAT features observations by Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Henry Kissinger, General David Petraeus and Samantha Power, as well as an array of world leaders, including Ashraf Ghani, president of Afghanistan, and Bakir Izetbegovic, president of Bosnia. Friends and family featured in intimate interviews include Richard Holbrooke's brother, Andrew Holbrooke, and son Anthony Holbrooke; his widow, Kati Marton; colleagues Vali Nasr, Rina Amiri and Ronan Farrow; and journalists Diane Sawyer, George Packer, Dexter Filkins and Roger Cohen.

            In Nov. 1995, after years of brutal civil war in the Balkans, including the horrific massacre in Srebrenica, Holbrooke was successful at bringing together Slobodan Milosevic (president of Serbia, 1989-1997), Franjo Tudjman (president of Croatia, 1990-1999) and Alija Izetbegovic (leader of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1992-2000) for peace talks in Dayton, Ohio. Regarded as one of his greatest achievements, the peace talks ended with a signed agreement that became known as The Dayton Peace Accords. “We could have never reached peace without Richard Holbrooke,” reflects Izetbegovic’s son.

            Holbrooke embarked on his final post under President Obama as U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ultimately, his style clashed with the administration, and he began meeting with journalist Bob Woodward to share his candid observations on tape. Holbrooke also started privately recording his thoughts, including his true feelings about the government’s Afghanistan strategy.

            Friends and colleagues reflect on the importance of high-stakes diplomacy, where peace is waged and wars are ended. Commenting on Holbrooke’s sudden passing on Dec. 13, 2010, President Clinton says, “The world seems to be coming apart again, and why do we have to lose one person who seems to able to put things together?”

            Other HBO playdates: Nov. 2 (4:30 a.m.), 5 (5:00 p.m.), 7 (12:30 p.m.), 9 (8:30 a.m.), 10 (3:00 p.m., 12:35 a.m.) and 15 (2:45 p.m.)
            HBO2 playdates: Nov. 4 (11:45 a.m., 10:30 p.m.), 16 (12:20 a.m.) and 22 (11:30 a.m.)
            The documentary will also be available on HBO NOW and HBO GO.

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