Henry Kissinger has written about his time in government in lengthy books that often go into excruciating detail. This little volume, his only foray into oral history, does the opposite: it distills—and therein lies its attraction. As one man’s view of events, it does not pretend to be a balanced history. But Kissinger’s accounts of the strategies that he and U.S. President Richard Nixon pursued in a series of crucial events—the opening to China, the 1972 summit with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, the first arms control negotiations with the Soviets—make for fascinating reading and serve as a timely reminder of what serious, farsighted diplomacy looks like. Participants must from the outset be able to answer the question, “What are we trying to do here?” They must be deeply versed in the other side’s history and present interests, demonstrate steely patience, and know that the precondition for a successful negotiation is “victory for both sides.” Kissinger’s insightful conversations with Lord, a veteran diplomat who worked as a close aide to Kissinger, are refreshingly stripped of the formal language of a published memoir, allowing his insights to shine through.
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