menu

The Inevitability of Tragedy : Henry Kissinger and His World
by Barry Gewen




Overview -

Few public officials have provoked such intense controversy as Henry Kissinger. During his time in the Nixon and Ford administrations, he came to be admired and hated in equal measure. Notoriously, he believed that foreign affairs ought to be based primarily on the power relationships of a situation, not simply on ethics. He went so far as to argue that under certain circumstances America had to protect its national interests even if that meant repressing other countries' attempts at democracy. For this reason, many today on both the right and left dismiss him as a latter-day Machiavelli, ignoring the breadth and complexity of his thought.

With The Inevitability of Tragedy, Barry Gewen corrects this shallow view, presenting the fascinating story of Kissinger's development as both a strategist and an intellectual and examining his unique role in government through his ideas. This book analyzes his contentious policies in Vietnam and Chile, guided by a fresh understanding of his definition of Realism, the belief that world politics is based on an inevitable, tragic competition for power.

Crucially, Gewen places Kissinger's pessimistic thought in a European context. He considers how Kissinger was deeply impacted by his experience as a refugee from Nazi Germany, and explores the links between his notions of power and those of his mentor, Hans Morgenthau--the father of Realism--as well as those of two other German-Jewish migr s who shared his concerns about the weaknesses of democracy: Leo Strauss and Hannah Arendt.

The Inevitability of Tragedy offers a thoughtful perspective on the origins of Kissinger's sober worldview and argues that a reconsideration of his career is essential at a time when American foreign policy lacks direction.

  Read Full Product Description
 
local_shippingFor Delivery
In Stock.
FREE Shipping for Club Members help
 
storeBuy Online Pickup At Store
search store by zipcode

 
 
New & Used Marketplace 32 copies from $14.59
 
 
 
 

More About The Inevitability of Tragedy by Barry Gewen

 
 
 

Overview

Few public officials have provoked such intense controversy as Henry Kissinger. During his time in the Nixon and Ford administrations, he came to be admired and hated in equal measure. Notoriously, he believed that foreign affairs ought to be based primarily on the power relationships of a situation, not simply on ethics. He went so far as to argue that under certain circumstances America had to protect its national interests even if that meant repressing other countries' attempts at democracy. For this reason, many today on both the right and left dismiss him as a latter-day Machiavelli, ignoring the breadth and complexity of his thought.

With The Inevitability of Tragedy, Barry Gewen corrects this shallow view, presenting the fascinating story of Kissinger's development as both a strategist and an intellectual and examining his unique role in government through his ideas. This book analyzes his contentious policies in Vietnam and Chile, guided by a fresh understanding of his definition of Realism, the belief that world politics is based on an inevitable, tragic competition for power.

Crucially, Gewen places Kissinger's pessimistic thought in a European context. He considers how Kissinger was deeply impacted by his experience as a refugee from Nazi Germany, and explores the links between his notions of power and those of his mentor, Hans Morgenthau--the father of Realism--as well as those of two other German-Jewish migr s who shared his concerns about the weaknesses of democracy: Leo Strauss and Hannah Arendt.

The Inevitability of Tragedy offers a thoughtful perspective on the origins of Kissinger's sober worldview and argues that a reconsideration of his career is essential at a time when American foreign policy lacks direction.


 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781324004059
  • ISBN-10: 1324004053
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • Publish Date: April 2020
  • Page Count: 480
  • Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.2 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds


Related Categories

 

BookPage Reviews

The Inevitability of Tragedy

Henry Kissinger’s approach to American foreign policy continues to be a subject of controversy, even though he’s been out of government since the 1970s. Regarded as a brilliant statesman by many, he has also been called an appeaser, a villain and a war criminal. What was it that caused people to view him so differently? Are there lessons for today we can learn from him? 

Barry Gewen, a longtime editor at the New York Times Book Review, explores these and other questions in his meticulously researched, consistently stimulating and deeply insightful intellectual biography, The Inevitability of Tragedy: Henry Kissinger and His World. Through detailed analyses of Kissinger’s policy decisions on Vietnam and Chile, the influence of his personal life on his professional worldview, and the views of other Jewish European refugee intellectuals, Gewen offers a better understanding of Kissinger’s ability to challenge people to rethink their assumptions.

Kissinger always loved the U.S. but remained skeptical about democracy. Although he downplayed the influence of his youth in Weimar Republic Germany during the rise of Hitler, who could forget that the leader of the Nazi Party came to power primarily by democratic means? Kissinger believed not in grand dreams but in dealing with realities. Peace is not the natural condition of humankind, he said, and democracy will not guarantee global peace and stability. A balance of power is essential. All of these ideas were controversial, of course, but probably nothing caused him more trouble than believing that we should accept evil in the world rather than trying to eradicate it. As he put it, “Nothing is more difficult for Americans to understand than the possibility of tragedy.”

This beautifully written and engaging gem is an exciting, exhilarating must-read for anyone interested in international relations, American foreign policy or the ideas of Kissinger, whether you agree with him or not.

 

BAM Customer Reviews