Kissinger: A Biography

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, Sep 27, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 896 pages
23 Reviews
As his parents finished packing the few personal belongings they were permitted to take out of Germany, the bespectacled 15-year-old stood in the corner of the apartment memorizing the details of the scene. He was a bookish and reflective child, with that odd mixture of ego and insecurity that can come from growing up smart yet persecuted. "I'll be back someday," he said to the customs inspector who was surveying the boxes. Years later, he would recall how the official looked at him "with the disdain of age" and said nothing. Henry Kissinger was right: he did come back to his Bavarian birthplace, first as a soldier with the U.S. Army counterintelligence corps, then as a renowned scholar of international relations, and eventually as the dominant statesman of his era. By the time he was made secretary of state in 1973, he had become, according to the Gallup Poll, the most admired person in America. In addition, as he conducted foreign policy with the air of a guest of honor at a cocktail party, he became one of the most unlikely celebrities ever to capture the world's imagination. Yet Kissinger was reviled by large segments of the American public, ranging from liberal intellectuals to conservative activists, who in varying ways considered him a Strangelovean power manipulator dangerously devoid of moral principles. Kissinger's power-oriented approach to global politics resulted in a messy conclusion to the Vietnam War that included the secret bombing and invasion of Cambodia and the Christmas bombing of Hanoi. Yet he was also able to design a triangular balance based on detente with Russia and an opening to China that preserved America's influence in the world. He had an instinctive feel for power, but it was not matched by a feel for the openness of America's democratic system or for the moral values that are a basic source of its world influence. This book, the first full biography of Kissinger, explores the relationship between his complex personality - brilliant, conspiratorial, furtive, prone to power struggles, charming yet at times deceitful - and the foreign policy he pursued. It draws on extensive interviews with Kissinger as well as 150 other sources, including Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, H.R. Haldeman, former South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu, Russian diplomats, cabinet colleagues, disillusioned aides, childhood friends, and business clients. In addition, it makes use of many of Kissinger's private papers, personal letters, recorded telephone conversations, his desk diaries and those of various officials, memos of classified meetings, and transcripts of FBI wiretaps. The result is an intimate narrative, filled with surprising revelations, that takes this century's most colorful statesman from his childhood as a persecuted Jew in Nazi Germany, through his tortured relationship with Richard Nixon, to his twilight years as a globe-trotting business consultant.
  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
9
4 stars
10
3 stars
3
2 stars
0
1 star
1

Review: Kissinger

User Review  - Shouvik - Goodreads

Walter Isaacson is a master at narrating the tangled arcs of an extraordinary person's life. He tried his best to narrate a great tale with Kissinger, and the first several chapters seem to be leading ... Read full review

Review: Kissinger

User Review  - Siya - Goodreads

Another excellent edition in the Walter Isaacson trove. I really enjoyed this and must admit to only having started reading Walter's biographies after reading his take on Steve Jobs. The sheer breadth ... Read full review

Contents

Kissingers Realism
9
Washington Heights
33
Harvard
84
Kissingers Empire
183
The Wiretaps
212
No Exit
234
The Invasion of Cambodia
256
Two Weeks in September
285
Secretary of State
474
Was Sinking
491
The Yom Kippur
511
The Shuttle
546
How to Be Captivating on a Background Basis
573
Transitions
587
The Death of Detente
607
The Magic Is Gone
630

SALT
316
China
326
Creating a Triangle
333
Celebrity
349
The Secret Life of the Worlds Least Likely Sex Symbol
355
Winter of the Long Knives
371
The Triangle
399
Peace at Hand
439
The Christmas Bombing
461
Morality in Foreign Policy
653
Covert Involvement Followed by Shuttle Diplomacy
673
Exit
693
Kissinger Associates
730
Legacy
760
New York
773
Bibliography
827
Index
841
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2005)

Walter Isaacson is the president of the Aspen Institute. He has been the chairman and CEO of CNN and the managing editor of Time magazine.

Bibliographic information