SPECTATOR, NEW STATESMAN, TELEGRAPH, SUNDAY TIMES and FINANCIAL TIMES BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2015
No American statesman has been as revered and as reviled as Henry Kissinger. Hailed by some as the "indispensable man", whose advice has been sought by every president from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush, Kissinger has also attracted immense hostility from critics who have cast him as an amoral Machiavellian - the ultimate cold-blooded "realist".
In this remarkable new book, the first of two volumes, Niall Ferguson has created an extraordinary panorama of Kissinger's world, and a paradigm-shifting reappraisal of the man. Only through knowledge of Kissinger's early life (as a Jew in Hitler's Germany, a poor immigrant in New York, a GI at the Battle of the Bulge, an interrogator of Nazis, and a student of history at Harvard) can we understand his debt to the philosophy of idealism.
And only by tracing his rise, fall and revival as an adviser to Kennedy, Nelson Rockefeller and, finally, Richard Nixon can we appreciate the magnitude of his contribution to the theory of diplomacy, grand strategy and nuclear deterrence.
Drawing not only on Kissinger's hitherto closed private papers but also on documents from more than a hundred archives around the world, this biography is Niall Ferguson's masterpiece. Like his classic two-volume history of the House of Rothschild, Kissinger sheds dazzling new light on an entire era.
The first volume of Ferguson's life of Kissinger is a great work about a great man by - it has to be admitted - a great historian. It should be read, and enjoyed, by every serious student of the history of our times
If Kissinger's official biographer cannot be accused of falling for his subject's justifiably famed charm, he certainly gives the reader enough evidence to conclude that Henry Kissinger is one of the greatest Americans in the history of the Republic, someone who has been repulsively traduced over several decades and who deserved to have defense of this comprehensiveness published years ago....Niall Ferguson already has many important, scholarly and controversial books to his credit. But if the second volume of "Kissinger" is anywhere near as comprehensive, well written and riveting as the first, this will be his masterpiece
Niall Ferguson...has chosen to tackle this topic on the grandest possible scale...I acquired valuable knowledge, elegantly conveyed
The book illustrates just what an extraordinary human being Kissinger is
Like Mr Kissinger or loathe him, this is a work of engrossing scholarship
this is a superb history of the modern world as well as a biography of Kissinger... Ferguson's tour de force shows that because Kissinger was a refugee from horror he understood from the day he first saw the Statue of Liberty that US engagement is vital to the peaceful development of the world
Ferguson is undoubtedly persuasive in presenting the young Kissinger as a man of ideals as well as ideas. His advantage as the authorised biographer, deployed with full force, has been access to a vast mass of previously unseen private correspondence that reveals his subject as nothing like the calucating cold fish of legend
With his usual meticulous research, Ferguson is master of all his work surveys. At least as important, he writes in an unobtrusive but compelling style that carries the reader along with unforced ease. Even on its own, the first volume of Ferguson's life of Kissinger is a great work about a great man by - it has to be admitted - a great historian. It should be read, and enjoyed, by every serious student of the history of our times
For big, bold and compelling, it is impossible to ignore Kissinger - 1923-1968: the idealist (Allen Lane), the first volume of Niall Ferguson's biography of Henry Kissinger, which asks us to reconsider America's best-known "realist" as more Kantian than Machiavellian, more Castlereagh than Meternich, at least up to 1968, when President Nixon first granted the Harvard academic high office.
Some might question whether Ferguson really needs 1000 pages to tell half of Kissinger's life. Other will revel in the wealth of detail on this most controversial of American statesman