Magazine September 21, 2009, Issue

The Great Dr. K

Former President Richard Nixon and former National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger in the Oval Office, February 1972 (National Archives)
Kissinger: 1973, The Crucial Year, by Alistair Horne (Simon & Schuster, 480 pp., $30)

In this book, a distinguished British historian sails amiably and skillfully into deep waters. (I should disclose that both the author and the subject have been friends of mine for many years, though my relations with Dr. Kissinger have been dormant recently.) The book highlights the year 1973, but is not confined to it.

Watergate resonates throughout, like the ominous theme from Jaws, but the question of whether Richard Nixon was guilty of crimes — or, as he endlessly repeated, of “mistakes unworthy of a president” but not of illegalities — is not definitively addressed. The author deals gently with the …

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