Henry, Act III

Kissinger's record of the Ford years and of the demise of détente.

Issue: Summer 1999

Henry Kissinger, Years of Renewal (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1999), 1119 pp., $35.

According to Walter Isaacson's Kissinger: A Biography, the consulting firm of Kissinger Associates became active in 1982, when the firm's chief "realized he did not feel like writing a third volume of memoirs and that Ronald Reagan was never going to make him secretary of state." Perhaps so, but that does not explain why we had to wait seventeen years for the finale of the trilogy that began with White House Years (1979) and Years of Upheaval (1982). More to the point are the facts that Kissinger Associates proved more successful, hence time-consuming, than expected; that Kissinger wanted to devote what spare time he had to more interesting projects (above all, his magisterial Diplomacy, 1994); and that the memoirs themselves had to be revisited in light of the end of the Cold War, the death of Nixon and each new revelation about the 1970s.

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