The Good American: The Epic Life of Bob Gersony, the U.S. Government's Greatest Humanitarian

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544
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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Revenge of Geography comes a sweeping yet intimate story of the most influential humanitarian you’ve never heard of—Bob Gersony, who spent four decades in crisis zones around the world.

“One of the best accounts examining American humanitarian pursuits over the past fifty years . . . With still greater challenges on the horizon, we will need to find and empower more people like Bob Gersony—both idealistic and pragmatic—who can help make the world a more secure place.”—The Washington Post

In his long career as an acclaimed journalist covering the “hot” moments of the Cold War and its aftermath, bestselling author Robert D. Kaplan often found himself crossing paths with Bob Gersony, a consultant for the U.S. State Department whose quiet dedication and consequential work made a deep impression on Kaplan.

Gersony, a high school dropout later awarded a Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam, conducted on-the-ground research for the U.S. government in virtually every war and natural-disaster zone in the world. In Thailand, Central and South America, Sudan, Chad, Mozambique, Rwanda, Gaza, Bosnia, North Korea, Iraq, and beyond, Gersony never flinched from entering dangerous areas that diplomats could not reach, sometimes risking his own life. Gersony’s behind-the scenes fact-finding, which included interviews with hundreds of refugees and displaced persons from each war zone and natural-disaster area, often challenged the assumptions and received wisdom of the powers that be, on both the left and the right. In nearly every case, his advice and recommendations made American policy at once smarter and more humane—often dramatically so.

In Gersony, Kaplan saw a powerful example of how American diplomacy should be conducted. In a work that exhibits Kaplan’s signature talent for combining travel and geography with sharp political analysis, The Good American tells Gersony’s powerful life story. Set during the State Department’s golden age, this is a story about the loneliness, sweat, and tears and the genuine courage that characterized Gersony’s work in far-flung places. It is also a celebration of ground-level reporting: a page-turning demonstration, by one of our finest geopolitical thinkers, of how getting an up-close, worm’s-eye view of crises and applying sound reason can elicit world-changing results.
4.7
3 reviews
Anil Das
May 31, 2021
AÀA BOSS NETWORK
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Third-party review
Kaplan writes a biography of man involved in most of the Humanitarioan issues of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The man wasalso critical in ssome of the less well known American foreign policy successes. Another clear and informing read from Kaplan
Third-party review
Award-winning journalist Kaplan (The Return of Marco Polo's World) shows the positive effects humanitarian work can have in this insightful biography. During his four-decade career, Robert Gersony (b ...

About the author

Robert D. Kaplan is the bestselling author of twenty books on foreign affairs and travel translated into many languages, including Adriatic, The Good AmericanThe Revenge of Geography, Asia’s Cauldron, Monsoon, The Coming Anarchy, and Balkan Ghosts. He holds the Robert Strausz-Hupé Chair in Geopolitics at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. For three decades he reported on foreign affairs for The Atlantic. He was a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board and the U.S. Navy’s Executive Panel. Foreign Policy magazine twice named him one of the world’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers.”

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