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Kissinger: 1973, the Crucial Year Hardcover – June 16, 2009

3.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Oxford University historian Horne (Harold Macmillan) presents a busy snapshot of AmericaÖs controversial superdiplomat in this admiring biographical study. The year 1973 ran Henry Kissinger, Richard NixonÖs chief foreign policy adviser, ragged with such watersheds as the Paris Peace Treaty with North Vietnam, the ChileansÖ overthrow of president Salvador Allende and the Yom Kippur War; he also won the Nobel Peace Prize, was appointed secretary of state and launched détente with the Soviets. HorneÖs chummyportrait, heavily informed by its ever-accessible subject, dubs Kissinger the single most powerful man in the world as his epic negotiations, intricately recounted here, resolved crisis after crisis while a paralyzed Nixon White House dithered over Watergate. Horne defends Kissinger from leftists who accuse him of war crimes and right-wingers who claim he was soft on Russia; he absolves Kissinger of responsibility for the Chilean coup, and blames congressional doves and a fifth column of antiwar activists for handing Indochina over to communism. The authorÖs own Cold War conservatism heightens the bookÖs dated tone; he doesnÖt question the continuing relevance of KissingerÖs static, Metternichian balance-of-superpowers vision. His is a simplistic, unreflective account of KissingerÖs place in history. (June)
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“A riveting story about one of the country’s most powerful secretaries of state”

--Jonathan Karl, The Wall Street Journal

"[Sir Alistair] tells the story racily and well"

--The Economist

"The book bustles with Kissinger’s peripatetic diplomacy and management of a series of crises."

--Gilbert Taylor, Booklist

"Horne grippingly recounts those tense days of international negotiation, all the more dramatic due to the psychological withdrawal of the president. The dynamic between Nixon and Kissinger, so different in personality and background, propels the narrative. The author writes perceptively of the strange bond between the two men"

--Kirkus Reviews --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1St Edition edition (June 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743272838
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743272834
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,134,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John E. Drury VINE VOICE on July 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Thirty five years after Richard Nixon's August 1974 resignation as president, the well regarded English historian, Alistair Horne, has written an informative and balanced examination of Henry Kissinger's 1973 tenure as Nixon's national security director and secretary of state. Horne travels a long road focusing on Henry Kissinger's first trip to China, followed by Nixon's 1972 trip, the 1973 Paris peace talks, the US's detente with Russia, the failed Year of Europe, the 1973 Yom Kippur War and his famous shuttle diplomacy securing Israel's final Sinai withdrawal; all heavily overlaid with the looming Watergate scandal and its impact leading to Nixon's resignation. Horne's credentials as a judge of history are impressive and he does not fail the reader. The book is convincing with facts and quotes and a thorough synthesis of memoirs, interviews and other source material. He does not skimp with details and provides interesting cameos and asides of the major players. This is true history told from the perspective of time and reflection; his conclusions are dispassionate and sensible. One is fascinated with Kissinger's adroitness in handling negotiations with Brezhnev, Sadat, Zhou En Lai, Golda Meir and the subtle nuances of his diplomacy forcing the withdrawal of the Israelis from the Sinai. Fact checking gaffes however mar the story line; he confuses "John McCord" and "James McCord" of Watergate infamy, there was only one James McCord, a defendant in the first Watergate trial. His claim that the House of Representative had no power over Kissinger ignores the House's power of the purse and the power of subpoena. Horne's claim that Nixon was "incapacitated" for DEFCON 3 and that this was one of "the most critical meetings in US - indeed, world- history since 1945" is an exaggeration.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
The author is a famed British historian who has written extensively on French and to a lesser extent, British history. Although I haven't read all of his previous books, the ones I have, including his trilogy on the battles for France in the Franco-Prussian War, World War I and World War II, I found very good. When this book was published I noted the change in topic for this author as well as the minimal fanfare it received. After reading Kissinger, 1973, The Crucial Year, I now understand the minimal splash the book made, suggesting that the author's change of venue may not have been a wise choice.

According to Horne's introduction, he was approached to write a full length biography on Henry Kissinger. After assessing the task, including Kissinger's own memoirs and literally the tons of raw data, i.e. the Kissinger papers, Horne declined the offer. Then after second thoughts Horne approached his publisher and Kissinger and requested this project - "a year in the life" of Kissinger volume - which sounded like a sound plan, providing a focus on the subject's turbulent times.

Unfortunately the plan soon goes awry with the reading. First, for anyone familiar with Kissinger and the Nixon administration, there is very little if anything new here. Second, the author bounces back and forth in chronological time with anecdotes and observations while filling in the back-story of Kissinger's actions, trips, failures and accomplishments, as he dealt with the end of the Vietnam War, the Yom Kippur War, (the best section of the book), and détente. Lurking in the background is Watergate, which is mentioned repeatedly although never fully developed.
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Format: Hardcover
At the beginning of this book, we are informed that if one had to write a full biography of Henry Kissinger,he would have to cope with the impossible-to-handle mission of reading thirty-three tons of material and documentation.Thus,choosing one year to describe Kissinger seems a wise and reasonable decision.This year was to be 1973,and Mr.Horne has chosen to focus particularly on four main issues:Watergate,Detente,Yom Kippur War and Vietnam.
Nixon and Kissinger were an odd couple:the first one was a poor Californian boy who had a rough life, the second was a German Jew whose family immigrated to the United States, where he got the best education and reached the pinnacle of American policy making pyramid.Both men were and felt extremely insecure in their lives.
Conversely, there was one thing which was the driving force of these two: their ambition to succeed in life and to establish a place in history.This they have managed, albeit in different ways.
The first part of this book describes the unfortunate days of Vietnam ,the most controversial American war.It does not take the stroke of a genius to confirm that 58000 American casualties and 350000 wounded and disabled men paid a horrible price because the American policy makers took a stupid decision to get themselves involved in a quagmire named Vietnam.At the beginning of the seventies of the previous century,this war was going nowhere.Nixon and Kissinger knew it very well.They cannot be blamed for something they have inherited.
However, Kissinger had the mandate to end this war provided he would reach a "peace with honour" agreement.Indeed,such an agreement was finally signed by the belligerent parties.
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