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Diplomacy: The History of Diplomacy and the Balance of Power

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,221 Ratings  ·  214 Reviews
Used Hardcover. Political Science
Hardcover, 912 pages
Published April 1st 1994 by Simon & Schuster Ltd (first published 1994)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nicholas Whyte
"[return][return]This is a somewhat frustrating book. The opening chapters, based apparently on the author's PhD thesis about diplomacy in the nineteenth century, are pretty dull, even soporific. But once Kissinger gets to the twentieth century, it all gets rather exciting - particularly as regards the foreign policy of Germany in the period between the two world wars and between 1945 and 1961; I don't think I have read a better analysis. But then, rathe ...more
Daniel Clausen
Feb 05, 2015 Daniel Clausen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-books
Whatever one may think about Kissinger, he is an indispensable theorist of realpolitik, balance of power politics, and the national interest. I originally picked the book up because I wanted something that covered a large span of history and was written clearly and simply. The book did not let me down. What is accomplished in 850 odd pages? There are two major themes that run throughout the book: that countries have survived and prospered largely when they have been practitioners of realpolitik; ...more
Peter Tieryas
Aug 12, 2013 Peter Tieryas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Seeing this book brings back so many memories. I really enjoyed this book and its views on the titular diplomacy.
With all of the controversy that still surrounds Kissinger's policies, that book makes me think he should have been a fine historian. Lucid and invigorating analysis of complex international relations issues.
Piotr Pietrzak
May 04, 2013 Piotr Pietrzak rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Top ten books every student of International Relations should read

by Piotr Pietrzak
Author of the prospects for humanitarian intervention in Syria
Nov 25, 2015 Akaitsoti rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Αυτο το βιβλίο πρέπει να το μελετήσεις, όχι απλά να το διαβασεις.
Sean Campbell
Jan 27, 2010 Sean Campbell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book to help one understand real politik - if Bush the 2nd had read this and taken away its lessons, he would have realized that Afghanistan had to be finished first and Iraq would have gone nowhere.

Kissinger does overplay his hand at the end - he almost becomes rigid in his application of real politik as the idealists that he preaches against.

As with most things in life, the truth is somewhere between these two ideals....
Eric Lin
Jun 20, 2014 Eric Lin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was a great change of pace to read Kissinger's descriptions of more recent history, since most of the books I read are from the Revolutionary War until the Civil War. Kissinger explains the Vietnam War and Cuban missile crisis in a way that explains the thinking of those in power. More importantly, he explains how each action influenced subsequent actions, and describes the chain of consequences.

I've heard this book described as Henry Kissinger's master's thesis, that he just kept on writing.
Sep 21, 2012 Zachary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very worthwhile read. Was shocking how little I knew about these topics.

Very helpful historical context around raison de'etat, Realpolitik, balance of power, collective security, etc. Was challenging to read the historical conflicts and imagine libertarian foreign policy responses.

I was struck wondering what the response would be to a Romney-esque comment, "Nations are people, too."

Thought provoking to see the impact that individuals can have on the world. And, likewise, the power of the billi
Sean Boyd
May 15, 2012 Sean Boyd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As part of our IB syllabus, we were asked to read Henry Kissinger's Diplomacy. Throughout the school year, Kissinger has been the main topic of many discussions. At the end, we can say, the man is quite interested.
The book itself is thick. But when you really take the time, some moments of humor present themselves. Henry Kissinger gives brilliant analysis that makes you decide whether to take his side of the issues, or to listen to someone else.
It was interesting reading Henry Kissinger while al
Sep 07, 2011 Emily rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the several texts we where required to read, annotate and write down additional notes and analysis for my IB 20th Century Studies class. And from the perspective of a High School Senior (granted one taking all University coursed for the past two years), it could not be more dry.

In addition to failing to hold my attention for even a page. Kissinger's ideas are often rather grandiose and lacking enough facts to fully suport them. Overall I believe that while I did learn a lot about
Feb 08, 2014 Bob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I admire Henry Kissinger and his extensive background in world diplomacy, this book requires a lot from the reader. Details, names, dates and always, Henry's thoughts.
I hate to start reading a book and then give up, but I almost did on this one. I'm pleased that I finally finished it, learned a lot and gained new insight into problems that The U.S. will face for decades to come. A good editor could have chopped off about 200 pages without losing the quality.
May 08, 2007 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: schoolreads, history
This was the text for a history class of mine in high school. It was a really good text. I really enjoyed reading a book that wasn't a textbook for a history class. I felt like the history texts insulted our intelligence while a book like this allowed for more varied and interesting discussion. Reading a text like this allowed more analysis of what happened and why instead of simply memorizing things.
Mar 08, 2010 Yvonne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first, I thought this book is intended to give people a general overview of modern history. However, it often lacks key information for people that don't have a thorough background in history. It is nicely written.
The best aspect of this book are the annecdotes from his personal experience as a politician.
Jul 31, 2013 Mark rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I simply do not have the knowledge to be able to manage the author's continuous stream of biases and errors, and if I did have that much knowledge what would be the point of reading the book?
Lukáš Meravý
May 17, 2015 Lukáš Meravý rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the book that opened my intellectual curiosity. Everybody has a book like that, a book that lets you glimpse behind the curtain, or as in Plato's allegory of the cave, makes you leave the cave. I've read this book when I was 16 and hundreds of books later, I cherish the memories of sitting at the platform of our local train station and reading. To some, it might be rather strange that a book about diplomacy does just that, but for me it did.

Henry Kissinger is the (still) living embodime
Oct 12, 2014 Ignas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I downloaded "DIPLOMACY" to my Kindle I was expecting to find a resource of history and types of the world diplomacy through the ages, but I found a book which title should be "Washington's diplomacy in XX century and some prehistory to it". Despite the above mentioned I definitely recommend this book! Mostly to people who would like to catch the American point of view on the rest of the world. It has opened a new page in understanding the Moscow's diplomacy for me. After reading this book ...more
Mar 10, 2016 Dimitri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-history
This book places the birth of diplomacy in the 17th century, but is mostly concerned with the past 200 years. In this respect it adds a refreshing perspective to my fields of interest. Highlights such as the Vienna Congres that would disintegrate in dull details at book length are presented crisply. The sections on pre-war Great Power diplomacy & the Versailles Treaty are strong even if it's simply impossible to tell the complete story; by the logic of Clausewitz it's just a bit odd to omit ...more
Tamer Alshazly
Feb 28, 2016 Tamer Alshazly rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"whether experts had been led to their conclusions by scientific study or whether they invoked science to support preconceived conclusions--too often the later"
This sentence from the book summarizes the whole book, and most of Kissinger's books. It is the second reading of this wordy, lengthy, fatty book. Covering A looooong period pregnant of colossal mayhem historical events, almost exclusively dishonorable ungraceful bloody ones, culminating whole sales fiasco of the human kind. With the good
Oct 17, 2007 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: international relation geeks
This book was a great overview of diplomacy from the 17 Century up through the end of the end of the Soviet Union by a this former secretary of state and national security advisor. It focuses almost entirely on Europe, but moves into asia with US involvement there after world war II.

While the book is 800+ pages, it is mostly easy reading and always engaging Reading Kissinger's take on diplomatic events of the past is quite interesting. Plus, you would be surprised how applicable state relations
Deniss Rutseikov Ojastu
Mar 05, 2016 Deniss Rutseikov Ojastu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A second book by Henry Kissinger I read. As the first one, "Diplomacy" presents a deep and brilliant analysis of international relations, this time in particular diplomacy as practised by the leaders and negotiators of various Western states. It was especially enlightening to read background of and strategy behind the genius acts of Cardinal Richelieu (17th century's France), Metternich (19th centrury's Austria), Bismarck (19th century Prussia).

The main learning from the book: as in business or
Eric Martindale
I want to state upfront that this is an intellectually demanding book. It is not in any way "light reading". Long and full of information (which is questionable at times), a prospective reader must be quite committed before taking this book on. Quite frankly, the book is not often, but more accurately always, dry. As important as this work is, Kissinger often needlessly feeds the reader thoughts that are not important to the book, and at times, he goes into detail for which one must hunt for rel ...more
Jan 29, 2010 Jfk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I wish I could rate this a 4.5. Will you get unbiased information? Hell no. Will you agree with everything in this book? I hope not. Still, very informative and it got me to think about history and diplomacy in a new light, so it was very interesting. I hope that anyone reading this has enough historical background to know when to call bullshit and when to research the topic, because it is somewhat revisionist in nature. Still, well worth my time and I am glad I read it.
Tian Chen
May 21, 2008 Tian Chen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written by one of the foremost American statesman, this book is well worth the effort. Not meant as popular history, his book traces the rise of the modern nation-state from the Treaty of Westphalia until the modern era, and the increasingly vital role of deplomacy.

As a grand-master of the Realist school to diplomacy, the author's respect for Bismarck is consistently felt.

A book to treasure, to re-read and pass down to next generation.
Shaman! That was a long book. A fantastic one though. Make sure you have a good solid month to get through this one. Over 300 years old diplomacy in one solid book. 836 pages. Make sure you are very steeped in European history before you tackle this Achilles of history. I cannot begin to state the amount I have learned from this single book. Now for a long nap.
Dec 25, 2015 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kissinger is the most fascinating asshole since Frederick the First.
Apr 05, 2013 Guillaume rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellente histoire de la diplomatie par un expert du sujet. Livre sans doute cynique pour certains, pragmatique et réaliste pour d'autres.

Plusieurs chapitres méritent le détour:
La comparaison de Napoléon III et de Bismarck est redoutable.
L'entre deux guerre laisse un goût amer d'immense gâchis dans la bouche.
Dec 24, 2007 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Essential reading for any student of post-Westphalian western diplomacy. Although I will admit that Kissinger is one wiley bastard, the chapters concerning the era he was Secretary of State humorously glamorize Nixon's intellect.
Jan 26, 2009 Cfontanesi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
regardless of what you think of his policies, he does an expert job portraying a scholarly history of diplomacy, focusing on European conflicts. Clearly tinged by his understanding of how nations interact.
May 11, 2015 Mordy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book, plain and simple. My only criticism is that Kissinger's analysis of the Nixon administration is not critical enough. Obviously, he has a biased view of foreign policy at the time.
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Henry Alfred Kissinger (born Heinz Alfred Kissinger) is a German-born American bureaucrat, diplomat, and 1973 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. He served as National Security Advisor and later concurrently as Secretary of State in the Richard Nixon administration. Kissinger emerged unscathed from the Watergate scandal, and maintained his powerful position when Gerald Ford became President.

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“Behind the slogans lay an intellectual vacuum.” 11 likes
“The war is just when the intention that causes it to be undertaken is just. The will is therefore the principle element that must be considered, not the means... He who intends to kill the guilty sometimes faultlessly shed the blood of the innocents...'

In short, the end justifies the means.”
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