Henry Kissinger’s Real Legacy

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Written By Pinang Driod

This is an edition of Time-Travel Thursdays, a journey through The Atlantic’s archives to contextualize the present, surface delightful treasures, and examine the American idea. (Did someone forward you this newsletter? Sign up here.)


To read about Henry Kissinger’s legacy is to confront the place of an undeniably influential figure in a difficult—and bloody—global history.

“How many of his eulogists will grapple with his full record in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh, Chile, Argentina, East Timor, Cyprus, and elsewhere?” Gary J. Bass wrote in The Atlantic yesterday upon the news of Kissinger’s death at 100. “The uncomfortable question is why much of American polite society was so willing to dote on him, rather than honestly confronting what he did.”

The following is a guide to our writing about Kissinger, from 1969, when he first joined the Nixon administration, to the present day, including two pieces by Kissinger himself on the rise of artificial intelligence.


In His Own Words:
Conversations with, and writing by, Kissinger

  • The Lessons of Henry Kissinger, by Jeffrey Goldberg (December 2016)
  • World Chaos and World Order: Conversations With Henry Kissinger, by Jeffrey Goldberg (November 10, 2016)
  • A Conversation With Henry Kissinger, by David Samuels (April 2007)
  • The Kissinger Transcripts, by James Warren (June 2005)
  • How the Enlightenment Ends, by Henry Kissinger (June 2018)
  • The Metamorphosis, by Henry Kissinger, Eric Schmidt, and Daniel Huttenlocher (August 2019)

1969–1976: Our Reporting on Kissinger
From the Nixon administration to the Ford administration

  • Prof. Bismarck Goes to Washington: Kissinger on the Job, by Nora Beloff (December 1969)
  • Kissinger and Nixon in the White House, by Seymour Hersh (May 1982)
  • The Price of Power, by Seymour Hersh (December 1982)
  • Who’s Running the Country?, by Joseph Kraft (April 1974)=
  • Kissinger’s Paper Peace: How Not to Handle the Middle East, by George W. Ball (February 1976)

Assessing Kissinger’s Legacy

  • Party of One: Judging Kissinger, by Thomas Griffith (July 1976)
  • The Craft and Craftiness of Henry Kissinger, by Philip Geyelin (February 1980)
  • Kissinger, Metternich, and Realism, by Robert D. Kaplan (June 1999)
  • Living With a Nuclear Iran, by Robert D. Kaplan (September 2010)
  • In Defense of Henry Kissinger, by Robert D. Kaplan (May 2013)
  • The Flaw in Kissinger’s Grand Strategy, by Husain Haqqani (November 14, 2016)
  • Henry Kissinger Will Not Apologize, by Graciela Mochkofsky (November 15, 2016)
  • Kissinger: The View From Vietnam, by Viet Thanh Nguyen (November 27, 2016)
  • Cooperation With Russia Is Possible, by Kathryn Stoner (November 22, 2016)
  • What Joe Biden Could Learn From Henry Kissinger, by Martin Indyk (October 22, 2021)

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