The Inevitability of Tragedy: Henry Kissinger and His World
Barry Gewen, W.W. Norton & Company, 2020, $30.00
What is a War Crime?
Barry Gewen in The American Interest (2006)
The Education of Henry Kissinger
Richard Aldous in The American Interest (2015)
Today, Henry Kissinger turns 97 years old. Admired by many as a sophisticated advocate of realpolitik, denounced by others as a war criminal, Kissinger remains an enduring figure of controversy more than four decades after leaving public office.
In his new book The Inevitability of Tragedy, Barry Gewen offers a new perspective on America’s 56th Secretary of State. Rather than a straightforward biography, the book provides an intellectual portrait of Kissinger through studies of key intellectual influences—including Hans Morgenthau, Leo Strauss, and Hannah Arendt—and accounts of key turning points in his life, including his childhood in Germany and decision-making on Chile and Vietnam. Ultimately, Gewen argues, Kissinger’s tragic worldview and ambivalence about democracy made him an uneasy fit for his adopted country—but also represent wisdom worth heeding at a time when America’s foreign policy seems rudderless.
Barry Gewen is an editor at the New York Times Book Review, and he joins Richard Aldous this week to discuss the book. Be sure to tune in to this fascinating conversation, and don’t forget to subscribe to the show on your podcast provider and follow @aminterest on Twitter.