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29-July-Aug-2007
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Partners in Power

A-Nixon and KissingerThe symbiotic pairing of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger—egos alike in ambition, insecurity, and paranoia—produced foreign policy success (détente with the Soviet Union and new relations with China) and disaster (in Vietnam and Cambodia, and in Chile) in equal measure in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Their relationship, though mutually beneficial, was rife with Shakespearean overtones: distrust, double-dealing, and deception were de rigueur in the Nixon White House long before Watergate took Nixon down. This new history looks behind the scenes at this quintessential pair of power brokers and their lasting influence, for good and ill, on the political stage.
HarperCollins. 752 pages. $32.50. ISBN: 0060722304

Oregonian 4.5 of 5 Stars
"[Dallek] probes all these history-making events in spectacular depth and has produced a 700-page book that is sure to become the standard reference on the Nixon-Kissinger collaboration. Drawing upon a wealth of new sources, such as 20,000 pages of transcripts of Kissinger’s telephone conversations, Dallek’s biography takes us well beyond any previous book on the subject." Matt Love

Boston Globe 4 of 5 Stars
"This book does not skimp on praise for what Nixon and Kissinger did to improve US relations with China and the Soviet Union. But it is no monument to them." Martin F. Nolan

Dallas Morning News 4 of 5 Stars
"The implicit question running throughout Nixon and Kissinger is: What would Mr. Nixon’s presidency have been like if he had been sane? The suspicion and backstabbing within the Nixon White House have been described before, but with the new documentary evidence that Mr. Dallek has amassed, the pervasiveness of paranoia is even more striking." Philip Seib

Denver Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Some of the detail will be daunting for all but the most dedicated policy wonks when it comes to missile treaties, turmoil in the Middle East, the ascension of Salvador Allende in Chile, summit meetings both here and abroad and, of course, discussions about how to end the war in Vietnam ‘with honor.’ But it all adds to the often alarming and always intriguing relationship between these two political titans who shared so much of the world stage at a particularly tumultuous time." Tom Walker

New York Times 4 of 5 Stars
"What Mr. Dallek has done, and done remarkably deftly, in this volume is focus on the relationship between the two men, and the ways in which their personal traits—their drive, their paranoia and their hunger for power and control—affected their performance in office and informed their foreign policy decisions." Michiko Kakutani

NY Times Book Review 3 of 5 Stars
"The narrow focus on character … obscures the full extent of the two men’s failures as policy makers. … Their policies, rooted in the cold calculation of American interests, generated a powerful backlash from both liberals, angered by the brutalization of the third world, and conservatives, who objected to the coddling of Communists." Mark Atwood Lawrence

Washington Post 2 of 5 Stars
"Early on, Dallek promises the story of a collaboration ‘that tells us as much about the opportunities and limits of national and international conditions as about the men themselves.’ For all his industry, he does not seem to have shaken himself free of his material to deliver on that promise." Margaret MacMillan

Critical Summary

Armed with voluminous new source material, presidential historian Robert Dallek delivers a comprehensive view of a profoundly influential political duo. Because of their importance, very little in Nixon and Kissinger is new. But that doesn’t deter reviewers from praising Dallek for this intelligent, wide-ranging synthesis. The author of the best-selling An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963 ( 3.5 of 5 Stars Sept/Oct 2003) and a two-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson, Dallek details the personal motivations behind Nixon’s and Kissinger’s public and private machinations, a technique that fascinates most reviewers. A few critics want more political context, but most seem satisfied with this riveting, fleshed-out story of a fascinating time in American history.