I have two recent reads that could qualify for our So Shiny bingo category but I read Ronan Farrow’s The War of Peace first so he gets the official tag. Ronan Farrow is the former MSNBC wunderkind best known for his Pulitzer Prize winning article on Harvey Weinstein as well as his recent expose on Les Moonves. Prior to his investigative journalism career Farrow worked for the Obama administration which is where a lot of the information in this book comes from. It is hard to believe he is the child of Mia Farrow and sexual predator Woody Allen (although I choose to believe the unfounded gossip that his real father is Frank Sinatra). It is even harder to believe he is only three months older than I am.
The War on Peace is full of facts and on the record sources, including every living Secretary of State up to and including Tillerson, that tie together to shine a light on the long suffering , over worked and underfunded State Department. Farrow speaks fondly about his former boss, Richard Holbrooke, a long time diplomat who fell out of favor in his later years. Farrow also offers kind words about his time spent working with Secretary Clinton as her Special Adviser for Global Youth Issues. Some of the reviews I read suggest he is a more effective writer when he is writing about the things he was not directly involved in but I actually appreciated his firsthand experiences with some complicated messes America has stepped in or created.
The logline on Amazon for War on Peace is “A harrowing exploration of the collapse of American diplomacy and the abdication of global leadership, by the winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service” and that is a pretty accurate description of what Farrow attempts to get across to his readers. His primary hypothesis is that, beginning in the 80s, America began a nasty habit of confusing foreign diplomacy with an increased military presence. Farrow uses examples such as the war in Afghanistan as well as our complex relationship with Pakistan and the diplomatic failures we’ve suffered in Africa and South America. He briefly touches on Trump and North Korea although this book went to print before the meeting between the two despots. I’ll admit that some of the topics Farrow covers went a little above my head but overall this is written with the general public in mind and not political science majors or government officials.