In This Review

Kissinger and the Meaning of History

Kissinger and the Meaning of History
By Peter W. Dickson
197 pp, Cambridge University Press, 1978

Excluding Presidents, no figure in American public life in this century has been the subject of as many books as has Henry Kissinger. The principal reason, of course, is the significance of the changes in foreign policy over which he presided. But there is also the challenge to the academic mind of relating philosophy to action, of discovering in Kissinger's writings the meaning of what he did in government. Dickson applies his formal training in Kantian philosophy to an analysis of Kissinger's often-mentioned but seldom-read 400-page Harvard senior thesis on "The Meaning of History: Reflections on Spengler, Toynbee and Kant" (1950). He concludes that what truly separates Kissinger from other American leaders is his "rejection of America's role as a nation with a special mission or place in history."