Raymond Seitz

Escalating Concerns

Kissinger: 1923–1968 – The Idealist


Allen Lane 986pp £35 order from our bookshop

Strolling across Harvard Yard one fine day in 1954, 31-year-old Henry Kissinger bumped into Arthur Schlesinger Jr, the historian already close to renown, who would become Kissinger’s lifelong friend. Kissinger had a newly minted PhD, but despite his obvious brilliance and prize-winning dissertation, the university had not offered him an expected associate professorship; nor had he been invited to join the Society of Fellows. Kissinger was adrift.

According to Niall Ferguson’s monumental first volume of Kissinger’s life (at almost one thousand pages, ‘monumental’ in the sense of ‘very large’), the chance conversation with Schlesinger set Kissinger in a new direction that would eventually take him far from the ivy-covered compounds of American academe. He had already travelled a fair distance. Born in Fürth, Germany, in 1923 and raised within the Orthodox strictures of the town’s close-knit Jewish community, Kissinger emigrated with his family to the United States in 1938, only months before Kristallnacht. At least thirteen of his relatives eventually perished in the Holocaust.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Sign up to our email newsletter below! Get free articles, highlights from the archive, and chances to win theatre… ,
    • RT : Founded in 1979, is a trusted independent source for reviews of new books across a variety of genres. A… ,
    • RT : Here we are - "Shelf Indulgence" by Ed Potten, a wonderful read, well worth your time: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Like going to a party hoping to get away as quickly as politeness allowed and at 4am finding myself still engrosse… ,
    • 'Neville never shed his sense of being the junior, and perhaps least-deserving Chamberlain.' From the archive, Mic… ,
    • 'The erecting and immediate destruction of a series of straw men rather detracts from what is for the most part an… ,
    • RT : A magnificent demolition job on this "acid laced tirade...unpleasantly self-obsessed...self pitying polemic...book… ,