Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Diplomacy” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.23  ·  Rating details ·  6,583 ratings  ·  340 reviews
A brilliant, sweeping history of diplomacy that includes personal stories from the noted former Secretary of State, including his stunning reopening of relations with China.

The seminal work on foreign policy and the art of diplomacy.

Moving from a sweeping overview of history to blow-by-blow accounts of his negotiations with world leaders, Henry Kissinger describes how the
Paperback, 912 pages
Published April 4th 1995 by Simon & Schuster (first published June 1st 1994)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.23  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,583 ratings  ·  340 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Diplomacy
Daniel Clausen
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
Nicholas Whyte
Dec 23, 2009 rated it really liked it

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, rather surprisingly, a
Peter Tieryas
Aug 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Seeing this book brings back so many memories. I really enjoyed this book and its views on the titular diplomacy.
Aaron Million
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This opus by Henry Kissinger is not for the faint of heart. While shorter than his White House memoirs, the book still clocks in at 835 pages. Unfortunately, many of these pages are consumed with Kissinger dissecting foreign policy moves and counter-moves, some from centuries ago. If the reader does not have a firm grasp of 20th century American foreign policy history and/or European military history from the past few centuries, he may find himself quickly sinking in the diplomatic quicksand. Ki ...more
Mar 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 the ...more
Jul 31, 2013 rated it did not like it
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?
Sean Campbell
Jan 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
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....
Tucker Jones
Jun 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Kissinger's Diplomacy is essentially four books.

1. The first is a diplomatic history of Europe from the 1600s until WWI.
2. The second is a US and Europe-centric diplomatic history from WWI until the early Cold War.
3. The third is part memoir, part justification for Kissinger's own political decisions, including a full three chapters devoted to the Vietnam War.
4. The fourth is the final chapter, an essay making predictions and policy prescriptions for the US circa 1994 when the book was writt
Wissam Raji
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics
It is a must read book about diplomacy and foreign affairs. In his book, Kissinger gives a historic overview about diplomacy that dates back to the 16th century. He discusses the different schools of foreign affairs supported with historic examples. He then continues to describe the evolution of American foreign affairs with all its strengths and weaknesses. It is one of the fundamental books in political science and it is very rich in history and diplomacy spiced up with Kissinger exceptional a ...more
Love of Hopeless Causes
Nov 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
I always wanted to read a book written by a super-villian. Turns out the guy can't write and no one cared enough to edit this repetitive work of fiction. How can you not notice two paragraphs in a row with the same first words? Only reinforces the notion that these type of people get in power by accident or by virtue of their servitude, as opposed to their aptitude. Then again, who would want Nixon's bourbon breath whispering into your ear? Basically a history of madness. DNF.
Sep 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Claudia Rangel Pereira
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a great book to understand international relationships in contemporary history. Also, Kissinger writes so well that reading this book is very pleasant.
Sep 04, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
May 08, 2007 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.
Andrei Love
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
A wonderful book. Of course the author being American himself, talked too much about USA, about Vietnam and Nixon. BUT! It is a perfect book to understand latest "Causes and effects" in history starting with Napoleon Bonaparte and ending with Boris Yeltsin.

I would recommend it to each and every President, External affairs minister etc. etc.

It is a practical guide in geopolitics, diplomacy, manipulation and strategy.
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 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
A historical telling, written with the means of justifying its author’s criminal acts of war. Skewed and lacking. In reality this deserves 0/5 stars.
Mar 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The title of the book promises one thing: an in-depth treatise of Diplomatic history, and boy does it deliver. Starting from the 15th century and the birth of the national interest as guiding principle of France's foreign policy, and ending with the sudden collapse of the USSR and the subsequent finalisation of the Cold War, the book provides a nuanced, engaging and surprisingly coherent overview of the history and evolution of Diplomacy.

Some of my favourite parts of the book were those before W
Eric Lin
Dec 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Lukáš Meravý
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
Jack Rosetti
There is Kissinger the statesman and Kissinger the intellectual. And while I maintain bottomless contempt for the former, whose policy workings stirred chaos instead of order and killed innocent people, I am surprised by the latter. This book surveys just what exactly diplomacy is. It’s a masterclass genealogy of diplomatic relations beginning with Cardinal Richelieu and ending with the fall of the Berlin Wall. He gets a star for the sheer amount of research that went into this thing. His source ...more
Feb 08, 2014 rated it liked it
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.
Mar 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Bill Gartner
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was a magnificent treatise covering diplomatic events from the 17th century through the Clinton years. Kissinger featured giants in politics who played seminal roles in defining diplomatic strategies stretching back to Richelieu and Bismarck, but concentrated on 20th century leaders including Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Hitler, Stalin, Churchill, Nixon, Kennedy, Mao, Johnson, Reagan, Carter and Clinton.

Key diplomatic policies such as “Raison d’etat”, Containment, balance-of
-power, collectiv
Alin Groza
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the greatest books I have ever read! It is a an excellent lecture to understand how politics works. It is also an amazing history book which perfectly describes and explains how major events took place during the years. On the other hand, it is fascinating to find out details from someone who was involved in various activities related to diplomacy and relations between countries. Kissinger writes this book very well and greatly reveals the international relationships in contempora ...more
Deane Barker
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm giving this five stars for what it should be -- it's the most expansive, authoritative history of diplomacy and foreign relations that may have ever been written. The amount that Kissinger knows is just mind-bogglingly. There is just so much detail...

...and therein lies its weakness. This is a long, tedious read. I finished it, but towards the end, I just felt like I was looking at words. You'd almost need to read this two or three times, with a discussion group, to get the full effect of it
Hesham Eissa
Jul 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
You might agree or disagree, admire or hate Henry Kissinger, but this book is a must read for anyone interested in understanding and analyzing the history of the 20th century, and understanding how a very important US politician who played a major role in shaping the world where we live in reads and interprets this history.

Very easy and fun to read, and very informative.
Artur Gęborski
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm going to read it again maybe in 3 years; really worth
Aug 05, 2018 rated it liked it
i think this is a good book, so i want t read this book may be i can find many something important of this book.
Aug 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Very interesting but a total slog of a book. Kissinger manages to outdo King in verbal diarrhea, which is disappointing because I think the content is important and should be widely read if not for the prose being the most powerful lullaby known to mankind.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Google "NSA Department Z" 1 14 Jul 09, 2013 02:24PM  
End of the Nation State? 3 32 Apr 08, 2012 01:43AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order
  • The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives
  • Man, the State, and War: A Theoretical Analysis
  • Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics
  • The Tragedy of Great Power Politics
  • Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power
  • Theory of International Politics
  • The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000
  • The End of History and the Last Man
  • On War
  • Politics Among Nations
  • The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution
  • The Age of Revolution, 1789-1848
  • Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis
  • The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics
  • The Cold War: A New History
  • The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power
  • What Is History?
See similar books…
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.

A proponent of

News & Interviews

Rumaan Alam began writing Leave the World Behind with a series of tweets on a secret Twitter account he started two years ago.   The book that...
4 likes · 1 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“Behind the slogans lay an intellectual vacuum.” 29 likes
“Intellectuals analyze the operations of international systems; statesmen build them.” 14 likes
More quotes…