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The Trial of Henry Kissinger Hardcover – May 17, 2001

4.2 out of 5 stars 118 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Christopher Hitchens doesn't mince words when it comes to Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state and national-security advisor: Kissinger deserves vigorous prosecution "for war crimes, for crimes against humanity, and for offenses against common or customary or international law, including conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap, and torture." The Trial of Henry Kissinger is a masterpiece of polemics; even readers who don't agree that its target is an emanation of "official evil" will appreciate the verve and style brought to Hitchens's fiery brief. ("A good liar must have a good memory: Kissinger is a stupendous liar with a remarkable memory.")

The book is best understood as a prosecutorial document--both because Hitchens limits his critique to what he believes might stand up in an international court of law following precedents set at Nuremberg and elsewhere, and also because his treatment of Kissinger is far from evenhanded. The charges themselves are astonishing, as they link Kissinger to war casualties in Vietnam, massacres in Bangladesh and Timor, and assassinations in Chile, Cyprus, and Washington, D.C. After reading this book, one wants very badly to hear a full response from the defendant. Hitchens, a writer for Vanity Fair and The Nation, is a man of the Left, though he has a history of skewering both Democrats (he is the author of a provocative book on the Clintons, No One Left to Lie To) as well as Republicans (Kissinger).

At the root of this latest effort is moral outrage, and a call for Americans, of all people, not to ignore Kissinger's record: "They can either persist in averting their gaze from the egregious impunity enjoyed by a notorious war criminal and lawbreaker, or they can become seized by the exalted standards to which they continually hold everyone else," writes Hitchens. "If the courts and lawyers of this country will not do their duty, we shall watch as the victims and survivors of this man pursue justice and vindication in their own dignified and painstaking way, and at their own expense, and we shall be put to shame." --John J. Miller

From Publishers Weekly

The arrest of Augusto Pinochet signaled a significant shift in enforcing international law, noticed by Henry Kissinger if not others. Vanity Fair columnist Hitchens (No One Left to Lie To, etc.), a self-described "political opponent of Henry Kissinger," writes to remedy the awareness gap, focusing on specific charges of Kissinger's responsibility for mass killings of civilians, genocide, assassinations, kidnapping, murder and conspiracy involving Indochina, East Timor, Bangladesh, Cyprus, Greece and Chile. If the book's title is direct, Hitchens's style is not. Indeed, so much attention is given to unraveling Kissinger's denials and cover stories that the underlying allegations recede into the background. Most of the material is known, but Kissinger's possible culpability has been overlooked for so long that Hitchens's stylish summation may be precisely what's required to bring resolution to a chapter in American foreign policy. Topics include what Hitchens casts as Kissinger's role in helping Nixon undermine the Paris peace talks on the eve of the 1968 election; the bombings of Cambodia and Laos, which killed roughly a million civilians; the assassination of Chilean chief of staff General Rene Schneider, whose loyalty blocked the planned coup against Allende; Kissinger's approval and support for Indonesia's invasion of East Timor and the resulting genocide; his support for the Pakistan military government's 1971 genocide in Bangladesh and for a bloody military coup in independent Bangladesh in 1975, and more. If America does not act promptly, Hitchens warns, others will, further eroding our claims to moral leadership. (May)Forecast: Hitchens's fame and reputation as a contrarian guarantee that his indictment will receive media attention (it's already been serialized in Harper's), and leftists will delight in his skewering of Kissinger.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; First Edition edition (May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859846319
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859846315
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #309,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
In this breezy but extremely well researched little book, Christopher Hitchens convincingly argues that Henry Kissinger is a war criminal according to published American and International legal standards. Hitchens builds his case not from a moral or political point of view but from a purely legal one based on evidence that Kissinger was responsible for acts of genocide, assassination, and unlawfully interfering with government operations both in the United States and in foreign countries. Hitchens documents how Kissinger's ignominious resume spans the globe and includes the mass murder of civilians in East Timor, Pakistan, Greece, Cyprus, Chile, Argentina, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.
In places such as Chile and Argentina, according to Hitchens, Kissinger merely supervised the assassination of democratically elected heads of state and the establishment of brutally repressive and murderous military dictatorships. His accomplishments were more significant in East Timor where, with his help, one third of the population was murdered, and in Indochina where he not only colluded in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese but also in Cambodia and Laos where under his guidance, Nixon illegally extended the war and waged it almost purely against the civilian population.
Conservatives or self-styled realists might refute Hitchens by arguing that Kissinger's genocidal resume is merely the result of his practicing a brutal but necessary variant of realpolitik.
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By A Customer on August 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
... It is particularly surprising that the claim arousing the most incredulity is the alleged sabotage of the pre-Nixon peace talks, which is almost certainly true. The far-more-moderate Larry Berman makes exactly the same claim (with a different analysis)in No Peace, No Honor a book which even conservatives (like former Reagan lackey Jack Matlock, writing recently in the New York Times Review of Books) find entirely credible.
As to Hitchens as character assassin: Certain characters, like Kissinger's, are in great need of reassessment. When one's life consists largely of extremely bad deeds done secretly in service of no good higher than one's own ambition and greed, a thorough assessment won't look very nice. Short of outright lying, there is no pretty spin one can put on secret carpet bombings, kidnapping, assassination (the murdering kind), overthrow of democratically elected leaders and a lifetime of making cozy with ruthless dicatators the world over.
The book is clearly not intended as a legal brief. As Hitchens recently stated: it is the case for the case for the prosecution, not the case itself. As such, it contains more than ample evidence to warrant further investigation. Indeed, Kissinger has already been served a summons in Paris to be a witness regarding crimes perpetrated in Chile. Summons have been issued in Argentina and Chile as well. So far Dr. K, with the assistance of the US State Dept., has assiduously resisted taking the stand, even though he is not even on trial. What is he so afraid of?
For those still making up their minds about the book, you should notice that those who dimiss Hitchens claims make no factual counter-claims, but instead offer puffy pseudo-expert dismissal.
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Format: Paperback
Although Hitchens wrote this book in order to expose the criminality of Henry Kissinger, it is of utmost importance to Library of Congress employees (as well as other librarians) to see how the institution was misused and [bad]. Really, just how can a government employee hide government papers as his own personal papers?
A bit out of date, Hitchens details on page 76 how this was done: "On leaving the State Department, Kissinger made an extraordinary bargain whereby (having first hastily trucked them for safekeeping on the Rockefeller estate at Pocantico Hills, New York) he gifted his papers to the Library of Congress, on the sole condition that they remained under seal until after his demise. However, Kissinger's friend Manuel Contreras made a mistake when he killed a United States citizen, Ronni Karpen Moffitt, in the Washington car bomb which also murdered Orlando Letelier in 1976. by late 2000, the FBI had finally sought and received subpoena power to review the Library of Congress papers, a subpoena with which Kissinger dealt only through his attorneys." I am also assuming one of Kissinger's attorneys could be listed as the General Counsel of the Library, Elizabeth Pugh.
Left out is the story of the man who took the papers under a [tricked] Deed of Gift, signed on Christmas Eve no less, between then Librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin and Kissinger. Boorstin, a highly duplicitous man in his own right, is a former communist who named names at the McCarthy hearings. The current Librarian of Congress, right-winger James Billington, is the man who fought the FBI subpoena. Maybe that is because he later named an endowed Library of Congress chair after Kissinger?
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