“It was fascinating to watch Zal operate in Afghanistan: he knew the country better than any of the foreigners who were in the city and he cared for it as much as any Afghan did. He knew Iraq better than almost all the American officials who were responsible for the decisions whose consequences led to the present situation in the country and the region. Khalilzad’s book tells his story with an honest detachment which is refreshingly different from the self-serving, biased accounts we have been used to getting.”

— Lakhdar Brahimi

“The Envoy is the story of the remarkable life journey of one of our nation’s great diplomats. Riveting in its telling, inspiring in its stories, and insightful in its commentary, The Envoy is a book that should find its way onto the bookshelf of anyone who cherishes the American dream and cares about what is happening in our world today.”

— Michael Morell

“Zal Khalilzad was the premier American diplomat of the last decade, serving as the top U.S. envoy to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations. He made and has now written an important contribution to our post 9/11 history. Zal’s is also a uniquely American story, of someone born in a distant land and raised in a different culture who embraced and then represented with distinction his adopted land.”

— James Dobbins



“Zalmay Khalilzad is a special talent and colleague who not only thinks strategically, but deftly implements policies on the ground in the most challenging of circumstances. His finger-tip feel for the politics, culture, and personalities of the Middle East, combined with his understanding of the measured use of America’s capabilities, has made him one of the most effective diplomats in recent times. Zal has written a memoir that recounts events he saw firsthand with important insights for today’s challenges.”

— Donald H. Rumsfeld

“A remarkably candid account by a man who was at the eye of the storm of U.S. foreign policy over the first decade of the 21st century. Ambassador Zal Khalilzad understands as few others do the complex interplay between politics and policy in Washington, and what it takes to implement those decisions in some of the toughest environments around the world.”

— Lt. General David Barno (ret.)

“I’m so pleased that Zal has finally written this long overdue book. I’m not given to cultural arguments, but there was something about Zal’s effectiveness in the Middle East that seemed attributable to his comfort with the ways of the region — and better yet, the region’s comfort level with him. His perspective is invaluable.”

— Condoleezza Rice

“Zalmay Khalilzad and I were both born abroad, became American, and worked as academics and practitioners of U.S. foreign policy. He has always operated with a positive vision about what America represents in the world. Zal offers compelling insights into what it means to be of two places, and he has a fascinating and gritty story to share of the making of U.S. policy in one of the most complicated and challenging regions of the world.”

— Madeleine Albright

A Middle East adviser recounts the role of the United States in the region over the past three decades.

Former ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the United Nations, Khalilzad chronicles a long career in international politics. Born in Afghanistan, the author came to America in 1966 as a high school exchange student. Although he first experienced culture shock—he had never seen a shower or an elevator—he quickly acclimated and later leapt at the chance to do graduate work at the University of Chicago. Middle East politics became his field of expertise, and he was pursuing an academic career at Columbia University when the Jimmy Carter administration tapped him to become an adviser on Afghanistan. In 1986, he joined the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff under Ronald Reagan. During the George H.W. Bush administration, Khalilzad left government to work at the RAND Corporation, helping to establish a center for Middle East policy studies during his eight-year tenure. Most of this revealing memoir concerns the George W. Bush administration, in which the author worked beginning in May 2001. The author acknowledges the “steep learning curve” facing that administration; no one on the foreign policy team “had a feel for the histories, cultures, and emotions that drove the politics of the broader Muslim world.” Khalilzad portrays Bush and Condoleezza Rice as articulate and thoughtful, but he frequently became frustrated by Donald Rumsfeld and by the power struggles among officials at the Pentagon and State Department. In formulating policy for Afghanistan, which was devastated by the Soviet-Afghan War, Khalilzad advised intervention to rebuild the country’s institutions to prevent its alignment with extremists. “Afghanistan was our first critical test,” he writes, but there, and in Iraq, rivalries, corruption, and a weak sense of civic responsibility, coupled with inconsistent American policy, undermined progress and stability. Critical of Barack Obama, the author advises a strong military presence as the U.S. promotes democratic ideals.

A chronological, straightforward, occasionally disturbing history of the challenges leading to the current morass.


— Kirkus Reviews

“For anyone desiring a detailed chronicle of America’s nation-building efforts after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, Mr. Khalilzad’s book should be required reading.”

Source: The Wall Street Journal

— Claudia Rosett, Wall Street Journal

“American strategic sensibilities in 2001 were still dominated by the sophisticated calculus of the Cold War, and had little feel for the politics of the bazaar in Afghanistan and Iraq. But, as ambassador to both countries, Khalilzad was on home soil and probably uniquely among senior US officials at the time possessed an instinctive understanding of the culture of patronage on which the societies were based.”

Source: Prospect Magazine

— Robert Fry, Prospect Magazine


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