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Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power Paperback – October 30, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Bestselling author Dallek (An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy) delivers what will quickly become recognized as a classic of modern history: the definitive analysis of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger's complex, often troubled partnership in running American foreign policy from January 1969 through August 1974. Dallek has had unprecedented access to major new resources, including transcriptions (20,000 pages) of Kissinger's telephone conversations as secretary of state, unreleased audio files of key Nixon telephone conversations and Oval Office discussions, and previously unexamined documents from the archives of Nixon, Kissinger (who served first as national security adviser, then as secretary of state) and White House hands Alexander Haig and H.R. Haldeman. Dallek's eloquent portrait of power depicts two men who were remarkably alike in important ways. Both harbored ravenous personal ambitions. Both suffered from (and operated out of) profound insecurities and low self-esteem. Both were deeply resentful (to the point of paranoia) of criticisms and challenges. Digging deep into the various archives, Dallek artfully fills in the back stories behind such debacles as the pair's policies in Vietnam, Cambodia and the Middle East, as well as such triumphs as the opening to China. In what many will consider the book's darkest moment, Dallek reveals for the first time the discussions and strategic thinking that led to the U.S.-orchestrated coup d'état against Chile's democratically elected president Salvador Allende in September of 1973. As he did with his Kennedy biography, Dallek finds important new material that will revise our thinking about a president and the man the author terms "a kind of co-president." 16 pages of b&w photos. (May 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Armed with voluminous new source material, presidential historian Robert Dallek delivers a comprehensive view of a profoundly influential political duo. Because of their importance, very little in Nixon and Kissinger is new. But that doesn't deter reviewers from praising Dallek for this intelligent, wide-ranging synthesis. The author of the best-selling An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917?1963 (***1/2 Sept/Oct 2003) and a two-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson, Dallek details the personal motivations behind Nixon's and Kissinger's public and private machinations, a technique that fascinates most reviewers. A few critics want more political context, but most seem satisfied with this riveting, fleshed-out story of a fascinating time in American history.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (October 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060722312
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060722319
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.4 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #197,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Dallek is the author of Nixon and Kissinger, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963, among other books. His writing has appeared in the The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and Vanity Fair. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Society of American Historians, for which he served as president in 2004-2005. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
There are several excellent books already in print by or about Richard M. Nixon and/or Henry A. Kissinger, notably Memoirs of Richard Nixon and Richard Reeves' President Nixon: Alone in the White House as well as Walter Isaacson's biography of Kissinger and The Kissinger Transcripts: The Top-Secret Talks With Beijing and Moscow. However, with access to a wealth of sources previously unavailable, Robert Dallek has written what will probably remain for quite some time the definitive study of one of U.S. history's most fascinating political partnerships.

I defer to other reviewers to suggest parallels between the wars in Viet Nam and Iraq, especially when citing this passage in Dallek's Preface: "Arguments about the wisdom of the war in Iraq and how to end the U.S. involvement there, relations with China and Russia, what to do about enduring Mideast trensions between Israelis and Arabs, and the advantages and disadvantages of an imperial presidency can, I believe, be usefully considered in the context of a fresh look ast Nixon and Kissinger and the power they wielded for good and ill."

Until reading Dallek's book, I was unaware of the nature and extent of what Nixon and Kissinger shared in common. Of greatest interest to me was the almost total absence of trust in others (including each other) as, separately and together, they sought to increase their power, influence, and especially, their prestige. In countless ways, they were especially petty men and, when perceiving a threat, could be vindictive. They seemed to bring out the worst qualities in each other, as during their self-serving collaboration on policies "good and ill" in relationships with other countries such as China, Russia, Viet Nam, Pakistan, and Chile.
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81 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Richard Cumming on April 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Robert Dallek is a presidential biographer withour peer. He has written about LBJ, JFK, and Ronald Reagan. This could be his best yet.

Dallek examines the partnership of two men who had much in common as well as incredible differences. Both Nixon and Kissinger had difficult childhoods. Nixon grew up poor in California. Kissinger fled the Nazis. Both men dreamed of better days. Each man possessed an outsized ego.

Dallek was able to obtain some incredible new insights into their relationship. Transcripts of phone conversations that Kissinger had had with thousands of people have recently become available to scholars. They shed light on what he really was thinking during those moments in history. Kissinger tried to suppress the release of these records until after his death. Like the Nixon tapes, these transcripts have come back to haunt Kissinger. Dallek interviewed Kissinger but he didn't get much out of it. Kissinger obviously wants to suppress knowledge of his role in the Nixon fiasco.

The Viet Nam War, diplomacy with China and the USSR, Watergate; it's all here. Neither man comes out looking too good. Dallek makes the case that Kissinger knew Nixon was incapacitated so badly as the Watergate scandal unfolded that Kissinger should have considered having Nixon removed from power under the aegis of the 25th Amendment. Kissinger failed to inform Congress that Nixon was incapable of running the country at that point. Kissinger had selfish reasons. If Nixon lost power then so did Kissinger. Power was the most important thing to both men. The imperial presidency of Richard Nixon has eerie parallels to our current administration. Today we also have an unpopular war, surveillance of those who oppose it, deep secrecy and paranoia.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By esskayee on June 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although the selling point for this is that Dallek uses newly released documents and tapes, the result is pedestrian. Dallek's style is dull. He provides background material inconsistently, so it is not clear what information he thinks his reader already has. If this book casts new light on any historical questions concerning the relationship between Kissinger and Nixon, I missed it. Mostly, it confirms what is already known about their personalities and interaction. A much better book is Joan Hoff's "Nixon Reconsidered" (re-released in 2001), even though it was first published in 1994. Dallek does not provide the new information that Hoff thought would cast more light on some of her subjects. The three stars is just for an honest attempt.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kay's Husband on June 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As with many other reviewers I suspect, we lived through each and every day these two were calling the shots at the national level. They were on the TV screen and in the newsmagazines, neither could filter all the truth from getting through, but they tried. While at the same time being pretty much wary of the other, even having insulting names for the other: 'drunken friend', 'meatball mind', 'madman' in oval office, and worst of all, 'Jew boy'. While treating those who reported to them with little to no respect. What a combo these guys were.

This book brings back many memories, and as one who remembers RN as Vice President, the book also helps to make sense of some of the idiotic things he got himself into then, to such extent that Eisenhower was thinking of dropping RN from his second term ticket. I can vividly recall the mock election we ran in high school prior to the election between Nixon and Kennedy, and Nixon won.

Nixon is of course dead, but Kissinger is very much alive: would be interesting to know what Henry really thinks of this book. Has it indeed caused another kicking and ranting tantrum from him. Or does it mirror fact so accurately that he smiles and says, 'yes, that was exactly the way it was'. Only Henry knows about that, but for certain this book rings true for me, who lived each and every day these two were in office, joined at the waist, locked in a personal power struggle. The real tragedy for HK was due to his birth in Germany he could never be elected president, and you know that that was what he desired more than almost anything.
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