Henry Kissinger and American Power: A Political Biography

Thomas A. Schwartz. Hill & Wang, $35 (560p) ISBN 978-0-8090-9537-7
Vanderbilt University historian Schwartz (coeditor, The Strained Alliance) examines the eventful career and divisive legacy of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in this even-handed biography. After sketching Kissinger’s flight from Nazi Germany, WWII military service, Harvard education, and arrival in Washington, D.C., Schwartz focuses on the period from 1969 to 1977 when Kissinger served, first as national security advisor and then as secretary of state, in the Nixon and Ford administrations. Deployed by Nixon as an envoy to China, Russia, and Vietnam, Kissinger ensured that credit for foreign policy achievements would go to the White House rather than the State Department. Schwartz skillfully illustrates the complex dynamics between the two men as Kissinger’s fame and regard rose, culminating in a Nobel Peace Prize, and Nixon’s influence ebbed during the Watergate scandal. Schwartz provides succinct explanations of key strategies such as “triangular diplomacy,” but the book’s comprehensive coverage of all the international conflicts Kissinger dealt with doesn’t allow for too much deep analysis. Schwartz also treats controversies, such as allegations that Kissinger leaked privileged information about peace talks with North Vietnam to Nixon’s camp during the 1968 election, rather lightly. Still, this exhaustive yet accessible account serves as a worthwhile introduction to Kissinger and the geopolitics of the 1960s and ’70s. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 05/20/2020
Release date: 08/18/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
MP3 CD - 978-1-7135-7638-9
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