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Departures Podcast with Robert D. Kaplan

It may be hard for many of our listeners to believe, but once upon a time US foreign policy could offer glimmers of astonishing humanitarianism, which was the case over the epic career of Robert (Bob) Gersony.

While other literary references have framed the actors leading US foreign interventions as “quiet” or “ugly,” Gersony’s life story offers a vision of the “good American,” and a reminder of the importance and strategic value of making decisions based on human rights and protecting refugees.

Veteran journalist and author Robert Kaplan joins the podcast to discuss his latest innovative work, “The Good American: The Epic Life of Bob Gersony, the U.S. Government’s Greatest Humanitarian,” a story of a foregone time in world history, of the last vestiges of the print and typewriter age where the United States was the foremost world power.

In the mid 20th century, the State Department wasn’t yet strictly stocked with Ivy League graduates, but instead included men and women like Gersony, who’d never held a formal government position or even graduated high school but rose through the highest ranks by means of their character and acumen – a feat which would seem impossible today. In the podcast, Kaplan describes his work as, “A book of discovery, of how one individual can make a great difference in the world, of rediscovering the American brand” while at the same time rediscovering how he saw the world, stripped from presumed labels and expectations, embracing these nations in their full complexities and nuance.