Henry Kissinger and the American Century

Paperback (Print)
Rent
Rent from BN.com
$8.37
(Save 64%)
Est. Return Date: 06/15/2014
Buy Used
Buy Used from BN.com
$14.31
(Save 37%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $6.86
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 70%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (18) from $6.86   
  • New (7) from $13.02   
  • Used (11) from $6.86   

Overview

What made Henry Kissinger the kind of diplomat he was? What experiences and influences shaped his worldview and provided the framework for his approach to international relations? Jeremi Suri offers a thought-provoking, interpretive study of one of the most influential and controversial political figures of the twentieth century.

Drawing on research in more than six countries in addition to extensive interviews with Kissinger and others, Suri analyzes the sources of Kissinger's ideas and power and explains why he pursued the policies he did. Kissinger's German-Jewish background, fears of democratic weakness, belief in the primacy of the relationship between the United States and Europe, and faith in the indispensable role America plays in the world shaped his career and his foreign policy. Suri shows how Kissinger's early years in Weimar and Nazi Germany, his experiences in the U.S. Army and at Harvard University, and his relationships with powerful patrons--including Nelson Rockefeller and Richard Nixon--shed new light on the policymaker.

Kissinger's career was a product of the global changes that made the American Century. He remains influential because his ideas are rooted so deeply in dominant assumptions about the world. In treating Kissinger fairly and critically as a historical figure, without polemical judgments, Suri provides critical context for this important figure. He illuminates the legacies of Kissinger's policies for the United States in the twenty-first century.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Henry Kissinger was incontestably one of the most influential and controversial men of the 20th century. The chief architect of American foreign policy under presidents Nixon and Ford, the Bavarian-born diplomat has also been a figure of almost incomparable infamy. (Officials in no fewer than five countries have sought him for questioning about alleged war crimes.) But what makes this brilliant, thin-skinned power broker tick? Historian Jeremi Suri answers the question by tracing Kissinger's path from his childhood as a German Jew through his academic career to his political ascendancy, rebuffs, and revival. A stunning portrait of a man who reshaped our world.
The Atlantic
Probing thoughtfully into Kissinger's background and character, Suri sees the secretary as the Cold War's ultimate statesman. Eschewing polemics...this work explores what shaped and nurtured the phenomenon that was Henry Kissinger.
Montreal Gazette

Henry Kissinger is arguably the most intriguing and countercultural global political figure of the 20th century...Suri's contribution to Kissinger scholarship is in the precision with which he delineates the influences that shaped Kissinger's world view. Focusing on the concept of Bildung, or inner cultivation that allows the individual to progress toward enlightenment, Suri outlines how Kissinger's intellectual development was informed by his appreciation of such transcendent leaders as Klemens von Metternich, Otto von Bismarck and Winston Churchill.
— Harold Heft

Forward

The resulting book, refreshingly short compared with the thousands of pages devoted to the man—most of which he has written himself—is both unusual and fascinating...Suri is not interested in whom Kissinger met with as national security advisor (from 1969 to 1973) or secretary of state (1973 to 1977), when he met them or even the minute details of what was discussed. In fact, he spends few pages on Kissinger's actual time in office. What he wants to get to the bottom of is why Kissinger is Kissinger, or, as he puts it, "I focus not on what Kissinger did, but on why he did it." Suri also tries to put the man in context, explain how the demands of the Cold War world facilitated the rise of such an outsider to American power...Given how hard Kissinger has tried to obscure his origins and make himself and his ideas seem exceptional, it's a little jarring to realize how much he is simply the result of historical circumstances that shaped not only him but millions of others of his generation, as well...One can probably do no better than Suri's portrait of Kissinger's mind.
— Gal Beckerman

Washington Post Book World

A useful, idiosyncratic study...Suri's Kissinger is an academic rumination on the cerebral Harvard professor-turned-showboating national security adviser that, while intentionally narrow in scope, is bold in its reach.
— David Greenberg

Chicago Tribune

This is a readable and provocative book that successfully explores the formation of its subject's worldview and rise to power. Suri is at his best when demonstrating the roots of Kissinger's distrust of mass democratic politics, his obsession with strong leaders, his emphasis on the limits of American power and his disdain for the "insular self-righteousness" and "utopianism" of reformers "advocating a vision of global democracy."...[A] timely book.
— Eric Arnesen

National Review

Nobody will ever accuse Jeremi Suri of lacking style or insight. His study of Henry Kissinger's personality and place in history offers piercing originality—so much so that laying down Dallek for Suri feels rather like that moment in The Prince and the Showgirl when Laurence Olivier, after telling all and sundry that they have too little love in their life, meets his ex-mistress...and realizes that she has too much.
— David Frum

Foreign Affairs

Offer[s] some fresh glimpses of [Kissinger's] motives and personality on display in high office.
— G. John Ikenberry

Times Higher Education Supplement
Drawing on research worldwide in addition to extensive interviews with Kissinger and others, Suri analyzes the sources of Kissinger's ideas and power and explains why he pursued the policies he did.
Times Literary Supplement

An interpretation of his life that stands out among recent books on the subject for the extent and the depth of the author's research. Unlike Hitchens (to say nothing of Robert Dallek and Margaret Macmillan, two other writers who have recently published books critical of Kissinger), Suri has done some real digging before rushing into print...This is surely the best book yet published about Henry Kissinger...Unlike so many previous writers—particularly those journalists steeped in the blood of the Nixon administration—Suri actually makes an attempt to understand his subject in the appropriate historical context rather than simply joining in the never-ending hunt for "smoking gun" quotations.
— Niall Ferguson

Choice

This provocative, evenhanded study examines how Henry Kissinger's background—particularly youthful memories of the failure of German democracy to respond to Nazism—influenced his diplomacy.
— A. J. Dunar

Sydney Morning Herald

[Suri] argues that Kissinger was the first true global diplomat...This is a thoughtful and readable biography of a hugely influential statesman.
— Bruce Elder

Melvin R. Laird
This book is different from every other book about Henry Kissinger. In tracing the influences on Kissinger, from his life as a boy in Germany to his rise as one of the most powerful diplomats in the world, Suri's book is critical to our understanding of how and why Kissinger acquired his positions.
Melvyn P. Leffler
Suri has provided a brilliant and balanced portrait of Henry Kissinger. Shaped by his childhood in Germany, his adolescence in New York, and his wartime experiences in the army, Kissinger was forever the outsider, indelibly influenced by his Jewishness, even as he became the consummate insider. Suri incisively analyzes the qualities that made Kissinger so attractive to patrons like Nelson Rockefeller and Richard Nixon, but also skillfully examines the flaws that will forever tarnish Kissinger's legacy.
David M. Kennedy
This remarkable book is far more than a biography of Henry Kissinger. By probing Kissinger's personal background and intellectual formation as well as his often cunning and frequently controversial statecraft, Jeremi Suri brilliantly illuminates both the character of Kissinger the man and the nature of the turbulent and tension-racked age in which he lived and did so much--for better or worse--to shape.
Montreal Gazette - Harold Heft
Henry Kissinger is arguably the most intriguing and countercultural global political figure of the 20th century...Suri's contribution to Kissinger scholarship is in the precision with which he delineates the influences that shaped Kissinger's world view. Focusing on the concept of Bildung, or inner cultivation that allows the individual to progress toward enlightenment, Suri outlines how Kissinger's intellectual development was informed by his appreciation of such transcendent leaders as Klemens von Metternich, Otto von Bismarck and Winston Churchill.
Forward - Gal Beckerman
The resulting book, refreshingly short compared with the thousands of pages devoted to the man--most of which he has written himself--is both unusual and fascinating...Suri is not interested in whom Kissinger met with as national security advisor (from 1969 to 1973) or secretary of state (1973 to 1977), when he met them or even the minute details of what was discussed. In fact, he spends few pages on Kissinger's actual time in office. What he wants to get to the bottom of is why Kissinger is Kissinger, or, as he puts it, "I focus not on what Kissinger did, but on why he did it." Suri also tries to put the man in context, explain how the demands of the Cold War world facilitated the rise of such an outsider to American power...Given how hard Kissinger has tried to obscure his origins and make himself and his ideas seem exceptional, it's a little jarring to realize how much he is simply the result of historical circumstances that shaped not only him but millions of others of his generation, as well...One can probably do no better than Suri's portrait of Kissinger's mind.
Washington Post Book World - David Greenberg
A useful, idiosyncratic study...Suri's Kissinger is an academic rumination on the cerebral Harvard professor-turned-showboating national security adviser that, while intentionally narrow in scope, is bold in its reach.
Chicago Tribune - Eric Arnesen
This is a readable and provocative book that successfully explores the formation of its subject's worldview and rise to power. Suri is at his best when demonstrating the roots of Kissinger's distrust of mass democratic politics, his obsession with strong leaders, his emphasis on the limits of American power and his disdain for the "insular self-righteousness" and "utopianism" of reformers "advocating a vision of global democracy."...[A] timely book.
National Review - David Frum
Nobody will ever accuse Jeremi Suri of lacking style or insight. His study of Henry Kissinger's personality and place in history offers piercing originality--so much so that laying down Dallek for Suri feels rather like that moment in The Prince and the Showgirl when Laurence Olivier, after telling all and sundry that they have too little love in their life, meets his ex-mistress...and realizes that she has too much.
Foreign Affairs - G. John Ikenberry
Offer[s] some fresh glimpses of [Kissinger's] motives and personality on display in high office.
Times Literary Supplement - Niall Ferguson
An interpretation of his life that stands out among recent books on the subject for the extent and the depth of the author's research. Unlike Hitchens (to say nothing of Robert Dallek and Margaret Macmillan, two other writers who have recently published books critical of Kissinger), Suri has done some real digging before rushing into print...This is surely the best book yet published about Henry Kissinger...Unlike so many previous writers--particularly those journalists steeped in the blood of the Nixon administration--Suri actually makes an attempt to understand his subject in the appropriate historical context rather than simply joining in the never-ending hunt for "smoking gun" quotations.
Times Higher Education Supplement - Daniel Sargent
[Suri] has written a quite different, bracingly original book about history's impact on Kissinger. Using extensive archival research and interviews with Kissinger, Suri shows us for the first time how Europe's nadir in the 1930s forged a mind that would define the course of American foreign policy...Adeptly executed, Suri's portrait of the statesman as a young man enlivens the stale fare of academic Kissingerology. This is a book that should be read not only by historians but also by general readers with an interest in international affairs...Suri has offered a disarming character statement, a testimony that will oblige readers to comprehend the stateman's complicity in terms of the tropubles that history has rested upon him. In itself, that is an important accomplishment.
Choice - A. J. Dunar
This provocative, evenhanded study examines how Henry Kissinger's background--particularly youthful memories of the failure of German democracy to respond to Nazism--influenced his diplomacy.
Sydney Morning Herald - Bruce Elder
[Suri] argues that Kissinger was the first true global diplomat...This is a thoughtful and readable biography of a hugely influential statesman.
David Greenberg
…a useful, idiosyncratic study…Suri isn't trying to compete—for audience or authoritativeness —with Dallek's Nixon and Kissinger or MacMillan's Nixon and Mao, which combine scholarly rigor with popular appeal. Rather, he's gambling that less can be more. Suri's Kissinger is an academic rumination on the cerebral Harvard professor-turned-showboating national security adviser that, while intentionally narrow in scope, is bold in its reach.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

University of Wisconsin historian Suri (Power and Protest: Global Revolution and the Rise of Détente) endeavors to explore the philosophical roots of Henry Kissinger's actions as national security adviser and secretary of state under President Nixon, finding those roots in a Jewish boy's experiences of a weak Weimar regime's fall to genocidal Nazism. At the end of the day, in Suri's account, Kissinger's philosophy boiled down to the need to back democracy with muscle. "America, alone of the free countries," said Kissinger, "was strong enough to assure global security against the forces of tyranny. Only America had both the power and the decency to inspire other peoples who struggled for identity, for progress and dignity." But Kissinger's expressed idealism leads Suri to downplay the consequences of Kissinger's actions, including his role in subverting the democratically elected government of Chile's Salvador Allende. Kissinger did not support the brutality of the "regimes he supported in Chile, South Africa, and other parts of the Third World," Suri writes. But, the author acknowledges, he did "nurture personal relations with their leaders as strongmen who could mobilize force effectively against threats to themselves and the United States." At the close of that statement, Suri stumbles into the unpleasant truth of Kissinger's realpolitik. Illus. (July)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Suri (history, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison; Power and Protest) here turns his attention to archetypal power broker Kissinger during his years in government service, ending in 1977. Throughout, the author bears in mind how Kissinger was influenced by his youth in Germany and by postwar America generally (thus distinguishing this book from Jussi Hanhimaki's Flawed Architect, which does not analyze such influences). Suri argues that the weak response of the democratic states as well as public acquiescence to the rise of the Nazis left Kissinger convinced of the need to use any means necessary to defeat evil. Suri specifies the social changes in postwar America that opened doors for those outside the traditional elites and points to Kissinger's ability to bridge previously separate worlds, which enabled him to get full benefit of these changed conditions. The author is less positive about the success of Kissinger's approach in Vietnam and the Middle East, where Kissinger's preference for dealing between nation-states, rather than with insurgencies and nonstate actors, was not an option. The archival research is extensive and the analysis thought-provoking. Although there are numerous studies of Kissinger, as well as his own memoirs, Suri's is the best at studying the man in terms of the social surroundings that influenced him. Recommended, especially for academic libraries.-Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York


—Marcia L. Sprules
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674032521
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 956,174
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeremi Suri is E. Gordon Fox Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction: The Making of the American Century

1. Democracy and Its Discontents

2. Transatlantic Ties

3. The Cold War University

4. A Strategy of Limits

5. A Statesman's Revolution

6. From Germany to Jerusalem

Notes

Acknowledgments

Index

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)