From Publishers Weekly
As a relatively unknown Harvard professor, Kissinger played an interesting-though entirely cloaked and somewhat serendipitous-role in one of Lyndon Johnson's muddled attempts to end the Vietnam War through diplomacy. Later on, he sat at the nexus of American power during his days as Nixon's foreign policy adviser, national security adviser and secretary of state. In addition to being a major player in the events he narrates here, Kissinger is also a scholar of the first rank and a gifted prose stylist. Thus readers interested in the Vietnam period but unfamiliar with Kissinger's previous books will find this new volume worthwhile. All others will find it redundant, nearly entirely derivative from chapters previously published in his three volumes of memoirs and his study Diplomacy. "I have rearranged and occasionally rewritten the material to provide a consecutive narrative," Kissinger writes in his foreword, and "reshaped the narrative from the anecdotal tone of memoirs to a more general account of the period...." Like the previous works from which it is mined, this new book provides a cogently written insider's take on the process of shutting down America's involvement in the long Southeast Asia conflict. The sections documenting Kissinger's day-to-day, face-to-face skirmishes with the North Vietnamese over a negotiating table in Paris are particularly engaging. Overall, Kissinger's account of America's venture in Vietnam and his role in that shipwreck is factually accurate, eminently informed and masterfully crafted. But it is also an account that many of us have already read.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"This book deals with the way the United States ended its involvement in the longest war in its history." The opening line of this book is as unambiguous as its title. Kissinger was, of course, President Nixon's national security advisor, later his secretary of state, and is currently an academic and author. In fact, Kissinger's latest book is really a selection of chapters gathered from four previous books, which he has rearranged and somewhat rewritten. In this insider book par excellence, Kissinger keeps fairly, if not wholly, grounded in objectivity as he records and interprets events in this "black hole of American historical memory." As he sees it, the problem with the Vietnam War by the time Nixon became president was not that American involvement there needed to be terminated--"every administration in office during the Vietnam war sought to end it"--but how
to end it. The war on the home front brought into glaring light the "tension" between U.S. idealism and the need to be immersed in the pragmatic world of international power-play. To the author, the lesson of Vietnam--"the tragedy described in these pages"--is that "America must never again permit its promise to be overwhelmed by its divisions." The density of Kissinger's prose style will not keep most readers from realizing the important place of this book within the complete historiography of the Vietnam War. Brad HooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved