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Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  1,203 ratings  ·  97 reviews
Working side by side in the White House, Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger were two of the most compelling, contradictory, and powerful figures in America in the second half of the twentieth century. While their personalities could hardly have seemed more different, both were largely self-made men, brimming with ambition, driven by their own inner demons, and often ruthles ...more
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Published October 30th 2007 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 2007)
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Daniel
I love Richard Nixon. Actually, let me rephrase that. I love reading about Richard Nixon. The White House taping system ensures that we have as unfiltered a view of the man as one could possibly expect from a historical figure, and it happens to be the one who had a legendarily extreme personality. He was capable of great vision--at one point on the tapes he is rhapsodizing about the historic nature of the China summit--and great pettiness, since five minutes later he's scheming to ensure that H ...more
Nathan
Dec 01, 2007 Nathan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who think history doesn't repeat itself, Bush's staff.
One doesn't know where to start. Nixon and Kissinger is much more than another tome about Tricky Dick and Watergate. (In fact, several hundred pages elapse before Watergate even enters into the picture.) Dallek's research, which draws on a number of recently declassified archives, tape transcripts and interviews, examines how the personalities of two men influenced American foreign policy during the final years of the Vietnam War. Richard Nixon won his first term as president promising to end th ...more
Mara
Caveats I was in third grade when Richard Nixon died and remember that my class got to go to the school library to watch a video I interpreted as being mainly about his Cocker Spaniel, Checkers.* Other than seeing the movie Dick starring teenage Michelle Williams and Kirsten Dunst** when I was in high-school, it's safe to say that my knowledge of our 37th president remained pretty limited. As a result, reading Partners in Power, at times, felt like seeing the "behind the music" for a band I neve ...more
Hobbes
The major problem with this book was the author's continual intrusion into the material. However, there is no question that his self assurance when it came to knowledge of his subject. Extensive research and insight into the personal lives of these two American giants are what formed the basis of a very informative book.

Unfortunately it was incredibly difficult to tell where thorough research left off and speculation began. There is brief biographical information for both Kissinger and Nixon (th
...more
John Bene
American society - and the global balance of power - would be different had Richard Nixon's 1964 prediction that we wouldn't "have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore" had come true. These two men were so influential, especially on geopolitical affairs, it is nearly impossible to estimate the world without them. But we know it would not be an unambiguously sweeter place, like Bedford Falls without George Bailey.


For non-Watergate junkies, this is a comprehensive recitation of the Nixon presidency.
...more
Ryan Curell
My main draw to this book was to gain insight about Kissinger, since this book is a dual biography. (It was this or Walter Isaacson's bio of HK, which is longer though is also older. I thought it might be a richer book since more documents, tapes, etc., have been released since the Isaacson publication.) This book primarily focuses on the administration's foreign policy achievements and blunders, going into further detail compared to other books about relations with the Middle East (Golda Meir, ...more
Ron
A well-researched (thanks to recently released transcripts of Dr. Kissinger's phone records and notes) study of the complex, conflicting, and often competitive relationship between Kissinger and Nixon as they pursued the boldest foreign policy steps of the Cold War. From the successes of detente with the Soviets and the 'open door' to China, to the failures of Vietnamization and the Chilean coup of Pinochet, to the mixed bag of Middle East peace negotiations, Dallek's book explores how Nixon and ...more
Bryan Craig
This is a well-written study of two men who had considerable success and miscues in American foreign policy. The biggest impression I got was the huge clash of egos. Nixon and Kissinger were out for credit and did not want to "out-do" one another. It is a fascinating read and worth the time. Dallek uses sources well and his style doesn't bog you down.
Chin Joo
This book juxtasposes two interesting characters who were similar yet different at the same time. This is not just a biography of two close colleagues but is an attempt to show how their respective tenures weaved together, at times in harmony, giving each other support, yet some times contradicting, coming close to breaking down on some occasions.

Since the gist of the story is about how these two men worked together, the author's effort at keeping the description of the earlier parts of their li
...more
Christopher
Robert Dallek, whose single-volume biography, An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963, is one of the best presidential biographies you are likely to find, has given us a fine dual biography on Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger during Nixon's time in office. Focusing almost entirely on the presidential years with only a couple of chapters dealing with both men's prior years, Dallek does a great job of balancing the two men without paying more attention to one over the other. He also does a ...more
Will Byrnes
Dallek is a gifted writer and this is both a very entertaining and informative read. It is the personalities of the two men that defined so much of what they did and Dallek pays particular attention to that. And these are definitely two characters with lots of personality, whatever one may think of their politics. I have one quibble. I felt at times that I was being buried in detail and that the book could have been a lot easier to invest time in had it not had over 600 pages of actual text. Tha ...more
Heman
(1) Kissinger was a bigger ass than Nixon on many levels (2) The first-if even that- water gate wiretap was actually done by Johnson on Nixon's people, who were trying to influence the South Vietnamese not to sit at peace talks with the North and Americans in Paris before the election. Johnson never let this out because he was afraid of the backfire of illegal wiretapping and he seems to have taken Nixon's word for it, over the phone, that he was not involved. According to a report later release ...more
Joe Martin
I have a few thoughts after reading this book.


It felt really long. Obviously, it was long. But some long books feel short and some short books feel long. This book felt really long.
How in the world did we manage to elect a neurotic, insecure, narcissistic man like Nixon to the Presidency? Especially one who would work in close partnership with another thin-skinned neurotic, in Kissinger? Sure, Johnson was also a power hungry manipulator. But he wasn't actually mentally unstable the way that N
...more
Judy
Robert Dallek used the availablity of newly open archives to help flesh out the relationship between Nixon and his National Security Adviser, and later Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. Both men were driven, paranoid, arrogant, and were hunry for both power and control. Individually, they are interesting--together, their relationship is fascinating. They needed each other, they fed off each other, and they were in constant competition with each other. Their relationship was uneasy from the be ...more
Brett
As my first in-depth read about the Nixon foreign policy years (not having lived through them), I found Dallek's book to be authoritative and revealing. Nixon is portrayed as a striver, intelligent but insecure. Kissinger comes across as shrewd and egotistical, sort of a 1960s version of Richard Holbrook. A theme of the book seemed to be that, although they were eager to shape foreign policy from the White House, events largely pushed them and their policies in unanticipated directions (e.g., in ...more
Jim
If you ask people to describe Richard Nixon, they'd probably mention Watergate and Foreign Policy and use phrases like cunning, paranoia, bunker mentality and his desperate need to be number one. If they knew him better, they might even describe him as anti-semitic, for while he wasn't a Klan style racist, there was an element of anti-semitism to his character (as I learned from this book).

If you asked those same people to describe Henry Kissinger, they might mention his shuttle diplomacy and No
...more
David
These guys...
Two parts of the book are called "The Best of Times" and "The Worst of Times." Maybe the whole book could be called "A Tale of Two Scumbags."
Nixon and Kissinger played off each other. Both wanted the glory at whatever cost. Even the good things they pulled off (opening to China, detente with USSR) were done for their personal status more than anything else. They kept the Vietnam war going for at least two extra years (20,000 casualties) so ending it could provide maximum help in the
...more
Simon
First-rate on nearly every level. It falters in the last quarter of the book, but only because Dallek chooses consciously not to delve into Watergate; Kissinger's involvement was minimal, though present, and Dallek wants to keep the focus on foreing policy. As a result, Nixon moves offstage as Kissinger shuttles around the Middle East, Russia and China, bombarded with cables to ensure that he remembers to put the President forward as the prime move in policy initiatives. But by this time, Nixon' ...more
Jack
Sometimes rather dry, but never forgettable. A matter-of-fact examination of the negotiations to end the Vietnam War, but much more, about as sharp an indictment as it gets for Kissenger's part in engineering the 1973 Chilean military coup. Yet as "Partners" shows, Nixon and Kissenger both were-- and still are-- compelling characters. One is a fundamentally insecure and profoundly shy man, with an almost pathological drive to succeed. Straight from the political hotbed of Whittier, CA, Nixon bui ...more
Eric
So I just finished my Blue Line reading selection two days ago I feel and continue to feel sullied. I always knew that Nixon was a creep, dishonistDishonest and a liar, but I had no extent that he sabotaged LBJ’s negotiations with Vietnam to get elected, bugged both government officials and members of the media, destroyed a democratically and popular government of Chile, etc, etc, etc. And while I do not think a person’s past mental history should be used against him but, clearly Nixon was crazy ...more
Jww
Dallek is a strong researcher and writer who backs up his claims with evidence. In this case, he shows two egomaniacal but deeply insecure men who ran U.S. foreign policy for years. The book is yet another testament to the fact that Nixon was crazed and flawed to the point of being evil. The book also shows that though Nixon and Kissinger have been lauded for many years as great statesmen, they were nothing of the kind.
Michael King
For a book about two deeply insecure megalomaniacs wielding enormous power at a critical historic moment, this was surprisingly dull in parts. Nixon and Kissinger are fascinating personalities who were directly involved in some of the most important moments of 20th century history, which makes the amount of space taken up here by workplace politics and other minutia rather depressing. I think that the book would've benefited greatly from focusing less on the day-to-day squabbles within the admin ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

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 (***1/2 Sept/Oct 2003) and a two-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson, Dallek details the personal

...more
Sarah Finch
This is fabulous. Dallek's greatest achievement is how he balances a nuanced portrait of Nixon and Kissinger's personalities while making clear the foreign policy challenges they faced. Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Laos, the USSR, Israel, Egypt, India, Chile, France, and Pakistan all receive varying levels of attention, and while Dallek is clearly no partisan on the side of his subjects, he does acknowledge what real accomplishments they achieved in the foreign policy arena. At the same time, he ma ...more
Jim Good
Covers the engagement between Nixon and Kissinger during Nixon’s presidency. The opening to China, ending of the Vietnam war, detante with the USSR, the Pakistan/India war, and the 1973 Yom Kipper war are all dealt with. The book dwells on Nixon’s use of foreign emergancies (USSR summit and Yom Kipper war) in an effort to offset his Watergate problems during the second administration. In this Dallek highlights Kissinger’s compliance and duplicity in Nixon’s efforts. The most interesting parts of ...more
Ron
An in depth look at the Nixon presidency from the point of view of Foreign Policy, and how Henry Kissinger impacted that Policy. The overriding concern thoughout Nixon's term was the war in Vietnam, the decisions that they made seem eerily similar to the decisions President Bush is making in Iraq. It made me wonder how we got started in Iraq, and what decisions have been made since then that were made for other than good reasons.
Also fascinating is the description of Nixon's downfall, how he re
...more
Samiur
My interpretation:
"Foreign Policy Revisited with Shaitan 1 and Iblees 2: Partners in Crime who further ignited the Pakistani Army, Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Zulfiqar Bhutto et. al. to Oppress Bangladeshis in 1971."

Unfortunately, can't comment without a rating.
Robert
One of the better Nixon books. If you're a Watergatefile (I consider myself to be), it gives solid insight into that. More importantly, it does give you a decent perspective on a few of the things the guy did right - and he really did a few things right. Naturally, this doesn't excuse the biggie. Nevertheless, as I accept that our political figures tend to be flawed, some more so than others. Its worth learning about the integrity and approach to foreign policy that was pursued in this administr ...more
Talmadge East
I generally like Dallek as a historian and teetered between "liking" this book and rating it "just ok." As far as how well the book was researched and well written. The only problem I have with the book is when Dallek editorializes he does it out of place. With the exception of the epilogue, it is as if Dallek wrote the book and then went back and added personal anecdotes at inopportune times. This is not a huge problem, just something I noticed. Also, i thought the book was a little winded and ...more
Samantha
May 06, 2009 Samantha rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: American history buffs
Recommended to Samantha by: Judy Ward
I chose this partly because of its presence on the bargain books shelf at Barnes and Noble, part recommendation and part because my love of author Robert Dallek's JFK biography "An Unfinished Life." Dallek is an interesting and engaging writer. This in-depth look at Nixon and Kissinger and foreign policy was, at times, very dry, but absolutely fascinating. They had an exceptionally interesting relationship and this book goes well beyond Watergate and Tricky Dick. Definitely a great read for pres ...more
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