The late Holbrooke wrote this book back in ’99 – a few years after he brokered the peace for Bosnia in Dayton in 1995. It’s a detailed and not very accessible account of the messy negotiations, but the process was interesting.. After four years of wars/brake-up of Yoguslavia, Holbrooke set up a two-month prepping session, interviewing and learning about the leaders and states in the conflict. Then they started the Dayton conference, which lasted for three weeks. After that they signed the peace treaty – but it was another three years of implementing the agreements, drafting the constitutions and setting up multi-ethnic states before the work was done.
The biggest drama in the book was the final days in Dayton – when things were deadlocked on principle and pride. Holbrooke and the team set up a strict deadline at midnight – after which the conference would shut down and the region left in flames. This was to be announced at a press conference at 10 am the morning after. The deadline was passed.. and the team wrote statements and invited the press. It was definite that this was not a bluff. During the night – when the other state leaders realized this, they finally caved.. and an agreement was reached in the morning hours.