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Kissinger: A Biography Paperback – September 27, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
- Frank Kessler, Missouri Western State Coll., St. Joseph
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
It's all here - the chronology - Kissinger's family's escape from Nazi tyranny, Kissinger's time in the armed services, Harvard, Rockefeller - with the bulk of the book, (understandably so), covering Kissinger's life and times in the Nixon administration - including the bizarre relationship that only these two men could have had.
As for concerns about objectivity, the author addresses this in his introduction - how can a reader not come to this book without preconceived notions/opinions on such controversial/polarizing topics as Watergate, the Vietnam War, détente, etc. - I found the writing to be fair as well as extremely engaging.
Concerning "gossipy" issues - the subject's thin skin, temper tantrums, zeal for secrecy, back-biting, etc. - and "real-politik" issues - China, the USSR, the Paris Peace Talks - All deftly covered in this book combining anecdotes, news reports, analysis, and behind the scenes sources. Kissinger's place in history is up for time to tell - this biography's place is secure. If you're debating about reading this book - don't - pick it up and start it - you won't be disappointed.
This massive best-seller is a wild, often uproarious and always entertaining read. Isaacson traces Kissinger from his turbulent childhood in Nazi Germany, his formative years in the US Army during the Second World War and his storied tenure as a Harvard underclassman, graduate student and imperious young professor. He presents Kissinger as undeniably brilliant yet completely insecure, callous and driven by unbridled ambition. His ultimate success as an academic, a bureaucrat and a statesman were all attributable to an uncommon mix of exceptional talent, incredible hard-work and constant manipulation.
Isaacson highlights Kissinger's academic focus on 19th century European diplomacy and attempts to show how the method and practice of Napoleonic era foreign secretaries such as Metternich directly influenced his behavior as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State. His attempts to centralize power and decision-making across all facets of foreign policy result in some of the most entertaining pieces of the biography: Kissinger's bizarre relationship with his boss, Richard Nixon. For instance, Isaacson tells how Kissinger always did his best to keep Nixon away from direct meetings with foreign leaders and diplomats, citing the president's "Walter Mitty tendencies" - as if the chief executive's desire to play an intimate role in his administration's foreign policy were ominous signs of delusions of grandeur.Read more ›
At the outset, Isaacson says (page 9): "Three decades after he left office, Henry Kissinger continues to exert a fascinating hold on the public imagination as well as intellectual sway over the nation's foreign policy conversation." He was a well-known apostle of "Realpolitik," emphasizing doing what had to be done to advance the national interest, balancing power with power, concerned more with accomplishing things than getting caught up in ideology and morality. Again, a realist as opposed to an idealist. And this is the tension that is described throughout the course of this powerful volume (page 15): ". . .Kissinger had an instinctive feel. . .for power and for creating a new global balance that could help America cope with its withdrawal syndrome after Vietnam. But it was not matched by a similar feel for the strength to be derived from the openness of America's democratic system or for the moral values that are the true source of its global influence."
The book begins with a brief early biography of Kissinger, including the misery he experienced after the Nazis came to power and the departure of his immediate family from Germany when they came to understand how inhospitable that country was becoming for Jews.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Mr. Kissinger, very intriguing person, however in some parts book is adding pages for purpose of adding pages, we are not finding out anything new, we are going into too many... Read morePublished 29 days ago by Goran
I found the book very interesting and informative having read Kissinger's White House Years.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Complicated figure in history that needs more than one first rate historian to develop an accurate profile. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Comprehensive biography which gave insight into how his experiences as a youth impacted his philosophy and actions as an adult. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Jeep61
Incredibly well researched but written in a way that it is of interest both to the serious student of history and also a lay person with a more superficial interest in American... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Lily Arya
I wish I knew where to start. I was a child during kissinger hey day. So I thought I would read the biography of the man that was Secretary of state to one and a half presidents. Read morePublished 7 months ago by virginia corley
This is the third book from this author we have purchased for my father-in-law. The report back we got was that this one also was excellent just like the last ones he read.Published 7 months ago by Arrasmith88
Walter Isaacson is a superior writer as far as readability of his books and quality of his writing style.Published 8 months ago by Maverick
Excellent book and easy read. Even tho 800 pages was hard to put downPublished 8 months ago by Rob of Williamsburg