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The Trial of Henry Kissinger [Paperback]

Christopher Hitchens
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Book Description

10 April 2002
Drawing on first-hand testimony, previously unpublished documentation, and broad sweeps through material released under the Freedom of Information Act, he mounts a devastating indictment of a man whose ambition and ruthlessness have directly resulted in both individual murders and widespread, indiscriminate slaughter.

Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Verso Books; New edition edition (10 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859843980
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859843987
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 13.3 x 19.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 331,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) was the author of Letters to a Young Contrarian, and the bestseller No One Left to Lie To: The Values of the Worst Family. A regular contributor to Vanity Fair, The Atlantic Monthly and Slate, Hitchens also wrote for The Weekly Standard, The National Review, and The Independent, and appeared on The Daily Show, Charlie Rose, The Chris Matthew's Show, Real Time with Bill Maher, and C-Span's Washington Journal. He was named one of the world's "Top 100 Public Intellectuals" by Foreign Policy and Britain's Prospect.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Christopher Hitchens doesn't mince words when it comes to The Trial of Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state and national-security advisor: in his view, Kissinger deserves vigorous prosecution "for war crimes, for crimes against humanity, and for offences against common or customary or international law, including conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap, and torture." The Trial of Henry Kissinger is a polemical masterpiece; even readers who don't agree that its target is an emanation of "official evil" will appreciate the verve and style brought to Hitchens's fiery brief. ("A good liar must have a good memory: Kissinger is a stupendous liar with a remarkable memory.")

The book is best understood as a document of prosecution--both because Hitchens limits his critique to what he believes might stand up in an international court of law following precedents set at Nuremberg and elsewhere, and also because his treatment of Kissinger is far from even handed. The charges themselves are astonishing, as they link Kissinger to war casualties in Vietnam, massacres in Bangladesh and Timor, and assassinations in Chile, Cyprus, and Washington, DC. After reading this book, one wants very badly to hear a full response from the defendant. Hitchens, a writer for Vanity Fair and The Nation, is a man of the Left, though he has a history of skewering both Democrats (he is the author of a provocative book on the Clintons, No One Left to Lie To) as well as Republicans (like Kissinger).

At the root of this latest effort is moral outrage, and a call for Americans, of all people, not to ignore Kissinger's record:

They can either persist in averting their gaze from the egregious impunity enjoyed by a notorious war criminal and lawbreaker, or they can become seized by the exalted standards to which they continually hold everyone else... If the courts and lawyers of this country will not do their duty, we shall watch as the victims and survivors of this man pursue justice and vindication in their own dignified and painstaking way, and at their own expense, and we shall be put to shame.
--John J Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"This is a disturbing glimpse into the dark side of American power, whose consequences in remote corners of the globe are all too often ignored. Its countless victims have found an impassioned and skilful advocate in Christopher Hitchens." - The Sunday Times "An eloquent and devastating indictment of Henry Kissinger's involvement in the war in Indochina, genocide in East Timor and many other acts of indiscriminate murder." - The Village Voice "This book is so studiedly defamatory that if Kissinger values his reputation, he really must sue." - Literary Review "Hitchens is a brilliant polemicist and a tireless reporter. Both sets of skills are on display throughout this book as he presents damning documentary evidence against Kissinger in case after case." - San Francisco Chronicle "I find it contemptible." - Henry Kissinger

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Our" Nobel Peace Prize winner... 4 Mar 2011
By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER
Richard Stampfle's excellent review of this book, posted over two years ago, nails the central issue of Henry Kissinger's criminal conduct. He draws on the old saw analogy of money owed to a bank - if you owe a small amount, the problem is yours; if you owe megabucks, it's the bank's problem. Likewise, if you are high on drugs, and kill one person, you have the problem; but if you are high on the arrogance of power, and cloak your actions in "statecraft," and are responsible for the death of millions, it is unlikely that you will be prosecuted, particularly if your country does not lose a war.

Christopher Hitchens wrote this indictment, in polemic form, almost ten years ago. He admits that he is (or at least was, when he wrote it) a political opponent of the "Doctor," and points out how, as one of his "achievements," Kissinger managed to have virtually everyone call him by that honorific, even though he is not a medical doctor. In the preface Hitchens eliminates from his indictment certain Kissinger actions that might not be indictable offenses, but are despicable enough, such as encouraging the Kurds to rise against Saddam Hussein, as well as his support for apartheid South Africa. Setting these aside, Hitchens details Kissinger's bloody hand in the events in Indochina, Chile, Bangladesh, Cyprus, East Timor, and the murder of a journalist in Washington, D.C. Prior to Hitchens' book, I was most aware of Kissinger's malevolence in the events in Indochina and Chile. Hitchens details Kissinger's efforts to prolong the Vietnam War by encouraging South Vietnamese obduracy at the Paris Peace talks in 1968, so that Richard Nixon could be elected.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's not easy to tell who the bad guys are 12 Dec 2012
This is a pretty shocking look at Kissinger's record over a period of roughly 10 years (late 60s to late 70s), during which time he held titles such as US National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Forty Committee and Secretary of State. Specifically, the book accuses Kissinger of:

-deliberate mass killing of civilian populations in Indochina
-deliberate collusion in mass murder ... in Bangladesh
-personal suborning and planning of murder of a senior constitutional officer in a democratic nation - Chile - with which the US was not at war
-personal involvement in a plan to murder the head of state ... of Cyprus
-incitement and enablement of genocide in East Timor
-and last of all, involvement in a plot to kidnap and murder a journalist living in the US Capital

The evidence against Kissinger is in the form of extracts from autobiographies of the key players and material eventually released from Justice Department records. Nobody has sued Hitchens for this book, and they obviously can't now; either Kissinger's people treated the entire work as contemptible, or there might just be a few stones that they wanted to leave unturned.

Either way, if you're a Hitch fan, or someone who's interested in this period or the abuse of power, I thoroughly recommend this entertaining book. It's also a very good history lesson if you're too young to remember 50 years ago.
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Henry Kissinger: War Criminal? 10 July 2001
By A Customer
After the character assassinations of Mother Theresa and the Clintons, Christopher Hitchens aims his sights at the Nobel Peace Prize winner and Richard Nixon's Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. As always, Hitchens refuses to pull his punches, and you are confronted with a barrage of vitriol from the outset - almost the first description of Kissinger is as "an odious schlump who made war gladly".
Indeed, this seems to be an accurate summary of Hitchens' overall position in 'The Trial of Henry Kissinger'; though he does bring wit and style to what actually amounts to a legal indictment of Kissinger for various war crimes. Following the Pinochet case, it seems that Hitchens is determined to see more international figures brought to justice for their actions. His main claim is that Kissinger deliberately prolonged the Vietnam War so that he could gain favour with Nixon and help to get the Republicans elected in 1968. As with the other claims, this is serious stuff that is being alleged and Hitchens uses all of his investigative powers to try and make his case.
All of the allegations are very intricately researched and detailed, often legalistic in the level of information and analysis that is provided. Although Hitchens never proves definitively that Kissinger is guilty of multiple war crimes, it is hard not to come away from reading this book with the conclusion that there were many atrocities committed by the American government in the name of 'realpolitik' during the late 1960's and early 1970's. There are too many awkward facts, mysterious documents and unanswered questions for this to be simply dismissed as an attack on a right-wing statesman by a political opponent.
If we ever see an active and effective international criminal court, Christopher Hitchens has provided enough material here to warrant Henry Kissinger appearing before it. And what's more, he's done so with verve and passion.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye opening polemic 21 April 2013
An excellent polemic by one of Britains most brilliant polemicists. Before reading this book I had little knowledge of Kissinger, so I had researched him before I started reading this. I had learnt the basics of him then started to read this book. Hitchens clearly and strongly lays out the arguments and facts about Kissinger crimes. His sabotaging of the 1968 election between Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey, his war crimes in Indochina, his assassination on the Chilean general Rene Scheinder and his supply of American weapons to the Indonesians to use on the people of East Timor.
After finishing the book there is such a substantial amount of evidence in Hitchens book from transcripts to letters that Kissinger is without a doubt one of the worlds most famous unindicted war criminals of the 20th century and needs, as Hitchens so elegantly describes in his book, to be put to trial and answer for the crimes he has committed against humanity.
Hitchens writing style is a joy to read and is written in a way that even a novice as I am in the subject to understand. Along with his other polemics against Mother Teresa and Bill Clinton (which I would recommend), I would glady read this book again and recommended to anyone interested in American foreign policy and anyone who is not aware of the skeletons in Kissingers closet that he likes to keep so quite as he rots away into history.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Catch Him if you Can
I always had my doubts about politicians; Henry Kissinger and his whistle-stop middle east diplomacy was highly suspect at the time. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Tim Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars a fine hatchet job.
Jaw dropping revelations about the master of real politik. Kissinger is like the shady Ross in Macbeth- forever thinking about which side to be on.
Published 2 months ago by J. M. Heywood
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius
The Man is a Genius and the World is a sadder place without him in this book we find out that evil men with power and money are above the law and continue to get away with it
Published 2 months ago by Rob
5.0 out of 5 stars The dirty hands of power
Eye opening stuff. Hitchens takes on the powerful with the combative force of evidence. A must for anyone interested in the exercise of foreign policy and power. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mike D
5.0 out of 5 stars Brimming with evidence
A fantastic book, clearly painstakingly researched. And written in classic Hitchens prose. Shockingly the evidence presented in this isn't the full story, as the Kissinger himself... Read more
Published 10 months ago by lawrence
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine example of polemic
In this wonderful book Hitchens aims a coruscating broadside at former National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Lucas Ford
5.0 out of 5 stars A disturbing view
One can safely say that, in moral terms, there is a case to be answered. In legal terms, there may be too although it would be interesting to see what a specialist in international... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Ashencrump
3.0 out of 5 stars Hitchens, sharp as ever
Not really much to say. I don't know of a great many people who could go toe to toe with Hitchens on his best day. Certainly not Henry Kissinger
Published 14 months ago by Victor Hvingelby
4.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive case for the prosecution.
Very well researched account, masterfully put together, that will teach you alot about Kissinger, even if you think you know quite a bit about him already.
Published 15 months ago by J. MCNEE
4.0 out of 5 stars Christopher Does It Again
The curtailment of this 'gentleman's' travel destinations tells it all! I wonder if Henry sleeps at night? Christopher's prose as usual, brilliant.
Published 16 months ago by JIMBO
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