The Inevitabil­i­ty of Tragedy: Hen­ry Kissinger and His World

  • From the Publisher
September 1, 2019

In this deeply thought­ful, metic­u­lous­ly researched work, Bar­ry Gewen looks at Hen­ry Kissinger’s life expe­ri­ences — in par­tic­u­lar, his teen years as a Jew in Bavaria liv­ing under Nazi per­se­cu­tion — and cru­cial­ly places Kissinger’s pes­simistic thought in a Euro­pean con­text. Gewen also explores the links between Kissinger’s notions of pow­er and those of his men­tor, Hans Mor­gen­thau, as well as Leo Strauss and Han­nah Arendt, both Ger­man-Jew­ish émi­grés who shared his con­cerns about the weak­ness­es of democ­ra­cy. Noto­ri­ous­ly, Kissinger believed that for­eign affairs ought to be based pri­mar­i­ly on the pow­er rela­tion­ships of a sit­u­a­tion, not sim­ply on ethics. Many today dis­miss Kissinger as a lat­ter-day Machi­avel­li, ignor­ing the breadth and com­plex­i­ty of his thought. With The Inevitabil­i­ty of Tragedy, Gewen cor­rects this shal­low view, pre­sent­ing the fas­ci­nat­ing sto­ry of Kissinger’s devel­op­ment as both a strate­gist and an intel­lec­tu­al and exam­in­ing his unique role in gov­ern­ment. The Inevitabil­i­ty of Tragedy offers a nuanced, thought-pro­vok­ing per­spec­tive on the ori­gins of Kissinger’s sober world­view and argues that a recon­sid­er­a­tion of his career is essen­tial at a time when Amer­i­can for­eign pol­i­cy lacks direction.

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