In his very fine political biography...Thomas A. Schwartz takes a fairly conventional approach and addresses the expected issues ... But Schwartz also separates his work from most others. He tackles an angle that is often overlooked in the never-receding field of Kissingerology: how domestic political concerns and necessities inform and shape foreign policy discourse and policies. In Schwartz’s apt and original rendering, Kissinger the realist intellectual is in fact a quintessential 'political actor' ... In adopting this approach and in spite of a narrative that at times is a bit dry and overly dense, Schwartz offers a remarkably intelligent and sensible assessment of Kissinger’s years in government—possibly the best we have to date ... The third [part is] remarkably rich and original ... Schwartz provides a very balanced examination of Kissinger’s intellectual and political trajectory, neither prejudicially critical nor too laudatory ... a critique that is often as indirect as it is ferocious.
Drawing on a vast amount of primary sources (including interviews with the man himself), Schwartz carefully charts Kissinger's evolution as one of the 20th century's most controversial statesmen ... Schwartz always remembers to add darkly fascinating personal elements ... readers who watched that history as it was unfolding will almost certainly find Henry Kissinger and American Power disconcertingly evenhanded in assessing how Kissinger acquired the reputation upon which so much political clout rests.
Kissinger’s contribution to the making of American power in the face of severe challenges from the Vietnam War to the oil crisis constitute the large work of diplomacy, statecraft, and national interest, but Schwartz places Kissinger in the middle of the petty realism of domestic and bureaucratic politics ... Kissinger—as do other leaders—likes to claim his decisions serve national interests first, but it’s worth examining that premise, and Schwartz helps by writing at length about Kissinger’s efforts to preserve his relationship with his boss, Richard Nixon.