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Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  2,429 ratings  ·  128 reviews
With his JFK biography, "An Unfinished Life," Dallek cemented a reputation as a great historian. Now he offers a portrait of a pair of leaders who dominated the world stage, changing the course of history.
Decades after working side-by-side in the White House, Richard Nixon & Henry Kissinger remain two of the most contradictory & powerful men in America in the 20th
Hardcover, 1st, 752 pages
Published April 24th 2007 by HarperCollins (NYC) (first published January 1st 2007)
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3.87  · 
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 ·  2,429 ratings  ·  128 reviews

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Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
“The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.”
- Henry Kissinger, National Security Advisor and Secretary of State for President Nixon

“[P]eople have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook.”
- President Richard M. Nixon

Has there ever been a duo in American political life to compare with Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States, and Henry Kissinger, who served Nixon as National Security Advisor and later as Secretary of St
Nixon: "Our hand doesn't show on this one though."
Kissinger: "We didn't do it . . . "
Nixon: "That is right. And that is the way it is going to be played . . . "

This one wound up being grueling, especially on holiday, especially on holiday during the World Cup. There is considerable stomach turning detail. The idea that both men were thin-skinned and manipulative percolated my own internal inventory. It makes one wonder. This book is strictly an account of the foreign policy of the Nixon Admini
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Chin Joo
Oct 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Martin Zook
Feb 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
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 rated it it was ok
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
Will Byrnes
Oct 07, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Dec 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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.
Jo Stafford
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I found Robert Dallek's detailed account of one of the most important foreign policy partnerships in US history utterly compelling. When Nixon's distrust of eastern-seaboard intellectuals collided with Kissinger's conviction that he was always the smartest person in the room, the result could not be anything other than a volatile working relationship between the two men, each determined to make his mark on the world.

As well as taking the reader through some of the most momentous events in recent
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read a library copy of this book. I am glad I didn't buy it. The book is a good read but I didn't enjoy it. It was depressing and disappointing to read about the serious character flaws in our elected officials; so serious that they put their own self interests ahead of the lives of our men in uniform. Their crude and vulgar language is inconsistent with the trust placed in them as representatives of our great country. We deserve better.

The greater question is have we learned anything from th
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fascinating information on the Nixon presidency, especially in relation to foreign policy. A great deal of the book is focused on Nixon and Kissinger's attempts to end the Vietnam War. To be honest, I was more interested in their dealings with China and the USSR. I had forgotten about their successes and failures in the Middle East, and the India-Pakistan War among others. It was also interesting reading about the effect of Watergate on Nixon's abilities as President, and Kissinger's attempts to ...more
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
This one was a slog to finish. If you ever wondered how to make one of the most interesting and complex characters ever to be President boring, this is your textbook. Dallek misunderstands Nixon and paints him as entirely one-dimensional. The book itself is repetitive and filled with facts that don't add up to any kind of narrative.

Dallek's style also irritated me. He alternated between calling Kissinger "Kissinger" and "Henry" and jumped in often with editorial assertions that weren't backed up
May 10, 2017 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
Abanoub Ibrahim
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: politics
The main problem with it is that it feels that Kissinger wrote it from his and his partner point of view
I thought it had no decent research
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
So dry and poorly written I couldn't finish.
Chris Dietsch
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Disjointed is the main word I’d review this book with
Anna T
Nov 27, 2017 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book although I thought it was unnecessarily lengthy. There was a wealth of information. I was primarily interested in Kissinger as I have studied Nixon before.
Mandy Galileo
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating history into one of the key relationships in the history of U.S. foreign policy. Strongly recommend.
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great telling of the egos of two misguided men in that they though they knew it all with each wanting the glory for themselves in regards to foreign policy.
Stephen P
The book contains many interesting facts about the Nixon foreign policy, Nixon's relationship with Kissinger, and the workings of the Nixon foreign policy administration. Much attention is given to the extraction from the Vietnam War, detente with Russia, and rapprochement with China. For those interested in the details of the decision making of those events, this is worth reading. I give it only 3 Starts because of the writing style. In reads more as a catalog of events and conversations, rathe ...more
May 31, 2015 rated it liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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.
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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