By George Packer, I thought this book would be dull, but in fact it is interesting throughout. Holbrooke, if you don’t already know, was a lifetime American diplomat, but much more than that too. Here is one excerpt:
After the evacuation of dependents and the arrival of ground troops in 1965, South Vietnam became a vast brothel. But even before there were half a million Americans, sex was an elemental part of the war. “I have the theory that if the women of Vietnam had big copper spoons through their noses and looked like Ubangis,” a reporter once said, “this war wouldn’t have lasted half as long, and maybe wouldn’t have even started.” The whole scene repelled the Boston Puritan Henry Cabot Lodge. “I not only don’t wanna,” he said, “I don’t wanna wanna.”
A vivid passage to be sure, but two points. First, why call the one sensible guy a “Puritan”? (Yes, the Puritans in fact were great, but I don’t think the remark is to be taken in that spirit.) Second, it seems to me that many Ubangi women are likely quite beautiful, and probably I saw some of them while in Ethiopia. Furthermore, at least these days, it is optional whether they wish to take on the famed “lip plate.”
In any case, I would describe the book as “rollicking.” You can order it here.
For the recommendation I thank Mr. C. Weber.