Thomas Schwartz: Henry Kissinger and American Power

TUE, OCT 13, 2020 (1:08:52)

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?



Diplomatic historian Thomas Schwartz offers a 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.

Learn more about the Vanderbilt Television News Archive that supported much of Schwartz’s research for this book.

+ BIO: David Leonard

David Leonard, President of the Boston Public Library, leads the 170-year old institution, one of Boston’s great educational, cultural and civic treasures. David began working at the BPL in 2009, bringing a wealth of experience from the technology, management and consulting fields. Appointed president by the Library’s Board of Trustees and Mayor Martin J. Walsh in June 2016, David’s focus is on developing the BPL as a twenty first century institution providing dynamic library experiences to the residents of Boston, of Massachusetts and beyond.

Prior to his appointment as President, David served as Interim President for one year. During that time he focused on the completion of the $78 million renovation of the Central Library in Copley Square, which opened in July 2016, as well as a significant number of branch and collections management improvement projects, enhancing access and the customer experience; collaborating with city departments and with local cultural institutions; and supporting Mayor Walsh’s arts and culture vision. During his time at the Boston Public Library David has also served as Director of Administration & Technology, acting Director of Administration & Finance, acting Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Technology Officer. He led the Library’s capital improvement project for the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, worked to modernize the library’s technology infrastructure - including the migration to the new Integrated Library System, and deployment of new Pay-for-Print Systems system wide - and oversaw master planning and design for the renovation of the Central Library in Copley Square.

David initially pursued an academic career, transitioned to the non-profit sector, and then spent ten years in the private IT consulting world in roles that spanned business development, management, and technology consulting, working on both strategic and tactical projects and services. David is currently enrolled in a PhD program in Library Information Science at Simmons College. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and Mathematics and a Master’s Degree in Philosophy from the University College Dublin. Photo Credit: Boston Public Library

+ 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.

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