A World Restored: Europe After Napoleon

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A World Restored: Europe After Napoleon

By Henry A. Kissinger
Grosset and Dunlap, 1964
354 pp.

Alongside Hans Morgenthau's Politics among Nations (1948), the classic statement of political realism. Although ostensibly a work about European history, Kissinger lays out the general principles of the balance-of-power diplomacy that would characterize his own policies as national security adviser and secretary of state. Academic realists, most prominently Kenneth Waltz, later sought to boil international politics down to an abstract, highly reductionist model. Kissinger never suffered from this kind of physics-envy; he (and Morgenthau) were always conscious of the fact that foreign policy was made by statesmen who operated in a specific historical, cultural, and political context that shaped their goals and limited their options. Kissinger's depictions of Metternich, Castlereagh, and Talleyrand reflect that consciousness and an attuned sensitivity to the nuances of character. This book lucidly argued his case that international peace was best guaranteed not through law or international organizations but through a distribution of power that moderated the ambitions of the strong. The book's greatest failing was its inability to appreciate the fact that history for the past two centuries has been on the side of the idealist Alexander I and not the amoral calculator Metternich.

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