The Best Books on Henry Kissinger and His Thought

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While Henry Kissinger is extremely controversial, his influence is undeniable, and therefore it is worth understanding his actions, as well as the intellectual backing behind his actions.

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    A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace, 1812-22
    by Henry A. Kissinger

    What better person to understand Henry Kissinger than Kissinger himself? His Ph.D. thesis is a wonderful treatise on International Relations as well as a solid work of history.

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    Kissinger: A Biography
    by Walter Isaacson

    The most balanced of the Kissinger biographies, Walter Isaacson doesn't fall into the trap of writing a panegyric for Kissinger (Ferguson), or spending 200 pages attempting to demolish him (Hitchens).The book is older, so it lacks certain archival advantages that Niall Ferguson has. Nevertheless it is the most full-bodied portrayal of the life of Kissinger.

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    Kissinger: 1923-1968: The Idealist
    by Niall Ferguson

    While Ferguson does seem to be overly fond of Kissinger (this is an authorized biography), the archive that Ferguson has access to is especially helpful for filling in the holes in Walter Isaacson's biography. The chapters on Kissinger in the Kennedy and Johnson White Houses are fascinating.

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    World Order
    by Henry Kissinger

    This book is a sort of Cliff Notes version of the Kissinger world view. While it doesn't have the depth of the other books on this list, it is the best choice for a quick introduction to Kissinger.

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

    This book looks like a biography but isn't. Instead, Gewen traces the intellectual antecedents and contemporaries of Kissinger (Hans Morgenthau, Hannah Arendt, Leo Strauss) and gives a wider lense to view the thought and actions of Henry Kissinger.

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