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Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  1,984 Ratings  ·  117 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 ruthle

Published October 30th 2007 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 2007)
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Apr 13, 2013 Daniel rated it really liked it
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
Nov 06, 2007 Nathan rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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
Martin Zook
Feb 24, 2015 Martin Zook rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history
It was worse than we thought.

Dallek's insights into Nixon are scarier than Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove. Where the movie was a satirical fiction to shine a light on truth, Dallek's recounting of Nixon's "tactic" of presenting himself as an unbalanced man with his finger on the button is downright scary on two accounts: 1) it was nonfictional; 2) people tend to become roles that initially are pretend.

That's not the only alarming revelation of this history focusing on Nixon's and Kissinger's
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
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.
Oct 21, 2010 Hobbes rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 13, 2015 Fiona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the most engaging and compelling non-fiction books that I have read. While Dallek was a bit more on the critical side when discussing the Nixon administration, he also provided some of Nixon's strengths as well as vulnerabilities which allowed the reader to see another side to him. It was nice to see an even and yet seamless description of Kissinger's personality as well as his interactions with the president.

Dallek also has an eye for detail with thorough referencing and exampl
Jan 06, 2010 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Erik Graff
Sep 29, 2015 Erik Graff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: citizens of the USA
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
Having lived through the events of Nixon's political career, I find reading retrospective studies interesting, both as a reminders and as corrective supplements to more contemporary accounts. Having read a great deal about the Nixon presidency and Watergate, however, there was little new here. Hersch's Price of Power is a more thorough study of Kissinger and there are any number of biographies of Nixon which go into much more detail. What's special about this book is simply that it focuses on th ...more
Bryan Craig
Mar 21, 2009 Bryan Craig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 24, 2015 Quinn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought I knew a lot about Nixon, but this book really shows the relationship between two people who at their time were the most powerful men in the world.
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
May 10, 2017 beatriz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good book

As a chilena it das hice to read about US intervention from their point of View. I would like although to read a bit more about stagflation, the end of dollar and gold parity, however i recomend
Feb 05, 2013 Jerome rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great, insightful history of an interesting partnership, although it’s more a history of Nixon’s foreign policy and Kissinger’s role (rather than a joint biography). Dallek’s style is evenhanded and all of his criticisms are solidly backed up, and he does a great job describing how dependent they were on each other despite their huge differences.

Dallek describes all of their major accomplishments: the opening to China (“a demonstration of how pragmatic [Nixon] could be to achieve something he
May 31, 2015 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book was wonderfully written it was my lack of interest in Vietnam and foreign affairs that was the problem.
Nixon was a very moody, paranoid man. His family life seemed lacking, with 2 brothers dying during his childhood. His father was not the ideal family man and Nixon often craved for his mother, which was time she could not give to him.
Nixon entered into politics with a vengeance. He started his political career as a state congressman and rose from there. He ran for President twice, los
Mar 05, 2017 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this book. I have never read a lot about Nixon, but this was a fascinating tale of the forces that drove both Nixon and Kissinger.

Quite detailed, you see the crumbling of a presidency and how the people inside of the presidency can exercise narrow and self interested judgement to protect themselves and their power, the good of the country be damned.
Jan 30, 2010 Simon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 22, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Casey Wellock
There are some juicy details here about Nixon being too drunk to even answer the phone. Kissinger basically ran the White House at the end. However, most of this is a play by play with not a lot of analysis. You come away with a wikipedia like sketch of the administration (if Wikipedia sketches were blown up to 700ish pages.) Did Nixon tilt towards Pakistan or India? What of Salt II? What was his strategy for Vietnam?

It feels like you are just skimming the surface. Learning the names of events a
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
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
Sep 27, 2009 Heman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
(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
Jan 12, 2009 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 06, 2013 Brett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 05, 2007 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jan 05, 2009 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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

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Robert Dallek is the author of 'Nixon and Kissinger', a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and 'An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963', among other books. His writing has appeared in the The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and Vanity Fair. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Society of American Historians, for which he served as preside ...more
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