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Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power by…
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Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power (2007)

by Robert Dallek

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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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 Administration and the role Kissinger played in executing such. This continues until Watergate at which point the narrative delineates the relative madness of the White House until Nixon's resignation.

The above quote is about Chile, not domestic dirty tricks. The sections detailing the "handling" of the Vietnam War were brilliant history though one larded with excessive detail and too many full quotes of both men being vulgar and unreasonably optimistic, given the circumstances on the ground.

I made a conscious effort to avoid politics this week and perhaps for the entire World Cup. Certain images and political retreats were still able to grab me, but I will stop here before making any parallels with the infamous personalities detailed in Dallek’s book. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
I finally finished this book about a year after my father lent it to me! Very, very dense but fascinating in a way... it's amazing that two men with such similar dysfunctions ended up guiding the US in foreign policy for 5 years. It was sad too... I can't help feeling sorry for Nixon. There was something about him that made him incapable of admitting wrong-doing and so he brought a lot of unnecessary suffering upon himself.

I won't read it again but I don't regret the year! ( )
  olegalCA | Dec 9, 2014 |
5086. Nixon and Kissinger Partners in Power, by Robert Dallek (read 11 Nov 2013) This is the 4th book by Dallek I've read--having read his JFK bio on May 5, 1998 and his 1st volume on LBJ on 18 June 1998 and volume II of his LBJ bio on July 11, 2003. This book on Nixon and Kissinger is a lucidly written and workmanlike study concentrating on the years Nixon was president. Much of it is determinedly factual, though there are judgments expressed and those judgments are I thought valid. For instance, Dallek faults the subjects for not making peace in Veitnam much earlier than they did, and rightly assigns them blame for the thousands of lives lost during the four years the war went on for no worthwhile reason. On the other hand, it is clear that the opening to China was a good move, for which Nixon deserves credit. The years 1973 and 1974 were saturated with the Watergate saga, and one disliking Nixon gets some satisfaction reading about those exciting times and is grateful that Kissinger was able to rein in Nixon as he descended to his doom.. This is a 700-page book, and well worth reading simply to recall those eventful years when Nixon was President. ( )
  Schmerguls | Nov 11, 2013 |
Extremely lucid writing illuminates the Nixon and Kissinger personalities and their entwined foreign policy and Watergate machinations. Hard for me to believe this was 40 years ago, Dallek's narration is very accessible and his analysis, as other reviewer have noted, is evenhanded. I really appreciated the clarity of his writing style. I was hoping for a more in-depth analysis in the last segment - it was complete but I just wanted more.' Fraid this means more reading....
I listened to the unabridged audiobook and Conger's narration is also first-rate, very engaged, ( )
  moekane | Mar 1, 2013 |
I was really looking forward to reading this as I particularly liked `Flawed Giant' about the Johnson administration - having finished and enjoyed it, I'm also slightly disappointed. Most of the foreign policy issues faced by Nixon and Kissinger are covered in detail, but there is practically no coverage of domestic political issues. Nixon himself had no interest in `building outhouses in Peoria' but this does not necessarily mean that it should have been omitted from `Partners in Power'. For example, toward the end of the book we are told `...Schlesinger, who replaced Laird as Secretary of Defence,......" without even an explanation of why Laird was replaced.

Other gripes include the remarkably scant coverage of the role of Spiro Agnew, who is mentioned briefly on only four or five occasions, and the inadequate coverage of the effects of Nixon's bombing of Cambodia and the means by which N&K illegally sought to cover it up. I also felt that more direct quotes, which are readily available, would have brought more life to the content.

However, Dallek does provide in-depth coverage of Vietnam, Yom Kippur War, OPEC crises and détente with the PRC and USSR, and the writing style easily maintains interest. The best aspect of the book (and to be fair the main objective) is the portrayal of the relationship between the president and his national security advisor. Startling similarities become apparent, and the author provides a particularly interesting analysis of the inner drivers motivating each man.

Overall, this is a very well written and enjoyable account of some aspects of the Nixon presidency and an intriguing study on the use and abuse of executive power. Kissinger was right when he said in 1968 `that man is not fit to be president'. ( )
1 vote cwhouston | Nov 21, 2010 |
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Conger, EricNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060722304, Hardcover)

With the publication of his magisterial biography of John F. Kennedy, An Unfinished Life, Robert Dallek cemented his reputation as one of the greatest historians of our time. Now, in this epic joint biography, he offers a provocative, groundbreaking portrait of a pair of outsize leaders whose unlikely partnership dominated the world stage and changed the course of history.

More than thirty years after working side-by-side in the White House, Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger remain two of the most compelling, contradictory, and powerful men in America in the second half of the twentieth century. While their personalities could hardly have seemed more different, they were drawn together by the same magnetic force. Both were largely self-made men, brimming with ambition, driven by their own inner demons, and often ruthless in pursuit of their goals. At the height of their power, the collaboration and rivalry between them led to a sweeping series of policies that would leave a defining mark on the Nixon presidency.

Tapping into a wealth of recently declassified archives, Robert Dallek uncovers fascinating details about Nixon and Kissinger's tumultuous personal relationship and the extent to which they struggled to outdo each other in the reach for achievements in foreign affairs. Dallek also brilliantly analyzes their dealings with power brokers at home and abroad—including the nightmare of Vietnam, the unprecedented opening to China, détente with the Soviet Union, the Yom Kippur War in the Middle East, the disastrous overthrow of Allende in Chile, and growing tensions between India and Pakistan—while recognizing how both men were continually plotting to distract the American public's attention from the growing scandal of Watergate. With unprecedented detail, Dallek reveals Nixon's erratic behavior during Watergate and the extent to which Kissinger was complicit in trying to help Nixon use national security to prevent his impeachment or resignation.

Illuminating, authoritative, revelatory, and utterly engrossing, Nixon and Kissinger provides a startling new picture of the immense power and sway these two men held in changing world history.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:31 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger were two of the most compelling, contradictory, and important leaders in America in the second half of the twentieth century. Both were largely self-made men, brimming with ambition and often ruthless in pursuit of their goals. Tapping into recently disclosed documents and tapes, historian Dallek uncovers fascinating details about Nixon and Kissinger's tumultuous personal relationship--their collaboration and rivalry--and the extent to which they struggled to outdo each other in foreign policy achievements. He also analyzes their dealings with power brokers at home and abroad, including the nightmare of Vietnam, the brilliant opening to China, détente with the Soviet Union, the Yom Kippur War in the Middle East, the disastrous overthrow of Allende in Chile, and growing tensions between India and Pakistan, while recognizing how both men were continually plotting to distract the American public's attention away from the growing scandal of Watergate.--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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