Master of the Game: Henry Kissinger and the Art of Middle East Diplomacy

Martin Indyk. Knopf, $30 (672p) ISBN 978-1-101-94754-8

U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gave a “virtuoso” performance during and after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, according to this sweeping history. Indyk (Innocent Abroad), a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and President Obama’s special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, recreates Kissinger’s high-wire success in ending the conflict between Israel and the alliance of Egypt and Syria while balancing contradictory goals: he wanted America’s ally Israel to win, but also to restrain Israel enough to make Arab countries dump their Soviet sponsors and accept the U.S. as the region’s power broker. Indyk recaps two years of Kissinger’s shuttle diplomacy as he negotiated incremental agreements that pulled Israeli forces back from some conquered territory, a canny approach, Indyk argues, that promoted regional stability and Israel’s later peace treaty with Egypt. Drawing on his firsthand acquaintance with Middle East diplomacy and many of the principals, including Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Jordan’s King Hussein, Indyk paints a vivid portrait of Kissinger as visionary statesman, Machiavellian operator, and occasional bumbler as he cajoles, arm-twists, and haggles over demarcation lines and diplomatic phraseology. This fascinating study illuminates both the cold logic of Kissingerian statecraft and the human factors that muddled it. Photos. (Oct.)