> Skip to content
  • Published: 6 January 2021
  • ISBN: 9780525512301
  • Imprint: Random House US Group
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 544
  • RRP: $60.00
Categories:

The Good American

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



The sweeping yet intimate story of the most influential humanitarian you've never heard of--Bob Gersony, who's spent four decades in crisis zones around the world--from the New York Timesbestselling author of The Revenge of Geography.

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.

  • Published: 6 January 2021
  • ISBN: 9780525512301
  • Imprint: Random House US Group
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 544
  • RRP: $60.00
Categories:

About the author

Robert D. Kaplan

ROBERT D. KAPLAN is widely regarded as one of America's leading travel writers and is also a highly influential writer on foreign affairs. He is the author of BALKAN GHOSTS, a landmark international bestseller translated into a dozen languages, THE ENDS OF THE EARTH, and EASTWARD TO TARTARY, among other bestselling books.

Also by Robert D. Kaplan

See all

Praise for The Good American

“This graceful study of a courageous and humble man reminds us that history can be made, and lives can be saved, by diplomats who know how to reconcile the good with the possible.”—Timothy Snyder, author of The Road to Unfreedom   “For anyone who has stopped believing that one person can make a difference, or that government service is still a noble calling, or that facts still matter, or that the American brand can still hold fast to practical idealism, this book is the antidote to those fears.”—Jim Mattis, general, U.S. Marines (ret.), and twenty-sixth secretary of defense, author of Call Sign Chaos   “In an era in which public service is often belittled and the State Department is being hollowed out, Bob Kaplan offers a powerful rejoinder. His evocative portrayal of a deeply committed humanitarian professional, Robert Gersony, reminds us that American diplomacy can be both smart and humane. The story of Gersony and his generation of practitioners is a timely argument for why humanitarian issues deserve renewed emphasis—and why it’s so important to revive America’s foreign policy institutions and invest in the dedicated people who animate them.”—Ambassador William J. Burns, president, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and former U.S. deputy secretary of state, author of The Back Channel   “Robert Kaplan, one of America’s greatest travel writers and geographers, provides the perfect antidote to present-day malaise in The Good American, the thrilling and dramatic story of aid worker extraordinaire Bob Gersony. Gersony spent his life working all over the world on behalf of the American people, few of whom had ever heard his name. Kaplan brings this quiet and unknown hero to life. In so doing he reminds us of what America at its best can achieve. This book is unputdownable.”—Max Boot, author of The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam

Related titles