Henry Kissinger was once hailed as a “miracle worker” for his peacemaking in the Middle East, pursuit of détente with the Soviet Union, negotiation of an end to the Vietnam War, and a secret plan to open the United States to China. Yet he was assailed from the left and from the right for his indifference to human rights, complicity in the pointless sacrifice of American and Vietnamese lives, and reliance on deception and intrigue. Was he a brilliant master strategist—“the 20th century’s greatest 19th century statesman”—or a cold-blooded monster who eroded America’s moral standing for the sake of self-promotion?
Renowned diplomatic historian Thomas Schwartz offers an authoritative, and fair-minded, answer to this question. Schwartz is Distinguished Professor of History at Vanderbilt University, where he specializes in the foreign relations of the United States. He has served on the U.S. State Department’s Historical Advisory Committee and as president of the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations. Henry Kissinger and American Power is his third book.
This conversation is part of the esteemed Lowell Lecture Series at the Boston Public library. The event is free to the public.
BIO: Thomas Schwartz
Thomas Schwartz is the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of History at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He teaches courses in the history of American foreign relations, as well as the history of America’s role in the Middle East and America and the Vietnam War. He attended Columbia, Oxford, and Harvard University, where he received his doctorate in history. Professor Schwartz has received fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, the German Historical Society, the Norwegian Nobel Institute, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Center for the Study of European Integration. He has served as President of the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations, and as the representative of the Organization of the American Historians on the United States Department of State’s Historical Advisory Council.