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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not a comprehensive history of the Nixon administration
I was really looking forward to reading this as I particularly liked `Flawed Giant' about the Johnson administration - having finished and enjoyed it, I'm also slightly disappointed. Most of the foreign policy issues faced by Nixon and Kissinger are covered in detail, but there is practically no coverage of domestic political issues. Nixon himself had no interest in...
Published on 7 Aug 2007 by Overseas Reviewer

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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Flawed heroes or war criminals?
Robert Dallek, biographer of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, has now written an account of the Nixon presidency, but it is not as good as Seymour Hersh's magnificent The Price of Power.

In July 1968 Nixon and Kissinger told President Thieu of South Vietnam to reject US calls to begin participating in peace talks. In doing so, they broke the US law against...
Published on 26 Mar 2008 by William Podmore


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not a comprehensive history of the Nixon administration, 7 Aug 2007
I was really looking forward to reading this as I particularly liked `Flawed Giant' about the Johnson administration - having finished and enjoyed it, I'm also slightly disappointed. Most of the foreign policy issues faced by Nixon and Kissinger are covered in detail, but there is practically no coverage of domestic political issues. Nixon himself had no interest in `building outhouses in Peoria' but this does not necessarily mean that it should have been omitted from `Partners in Power'. For example, toward the end of the book we are told `...Schlesinger, who replaced Laird as Secretary of Defence,......" without even an explanation of why Laird was replaced.

Other gripes include the remarkably scant coverage of the role of Spiro Agnew, who is mentioned briefly on only four or five occasions, and the inadequate coverage of the effects of Nixon's bombing of Cambodia and the means by which N&K illegally sought to cover it up. I also felt that more direct quotes, which are readily available, would have brought more life to the content.

However, Dallek does provide in-depth coverage of Vietnam, Yom Kippur War, OPEC crises and détente with the PRC and USSR, and the writing style easily maintains interest. The best aspect of the book (and to be fair the main objective) is the portrayal of the relationship between the president and his national security advisor. Startling similarities become apparent, and the author provides a particularly interesting analysis of the inner drivers motivating each man.

Overall, this is a very well written and enjoyable account of some aspects of the Nixon presidency and an intriguing study on the use and abuse of executive power. Kissinger was right when he said in 1968 `that man is not fit to be president'.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Walkthrough of Nixon/Kissinger approach to foreign policy, 7 April 2008
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Robert Dallek's book is a well written, well structured walk-through the Nixon and Kissinger years - and it focuses heavily on their Foreign Policy analysis and execution - primarily because thats what Nixon and Kissinger thought would define their reign.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. Its easy to read and assuming you want to learn how/why Nixon/Kissinger did what they did, then this is a good way to do it.

((( But briefly my reaction on what I learnt**. Frankly I was shocked by the way the in which personal emotion, prejudice and opinions would so heavily influence the decisions that Nixon and Kissinger took. From Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Bangladesh, China, Chile - these 2 men let let their prejudices, in many instances, overcome the rational analysis to make decisions that negatively impacted countries and millions of people. Maybe I am just naive but where does morality come into governing? Its through laws right? But laws dont seem to apply to anyone you brand as your enemy - and simply branding them your enemy is too black and white - thats schoolyard behavior. The battles between Kissinger at the NSA and Rogers at the State Department defy belief. Nixon demonstrated poor leadership by allowing his lieutenants to war with each other in this way.)))

Anyway, thank you to Robert Dallek for writing this book and exposing how leaders govern and make decisions that impact us directly. I have probably reacted too strongly about Nixon/Kissinger themselves rather than focus on the book itself. ** But please note - thats my interpretation of what I have read, and not necessarily Mr Dalleks. **

I am sure you will have your own interpretation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good easy to understand book for any new comer to the subject, 20 Dec 2010
A good easy to understand book, never got boring even though it's over 600 pages.

I'm new to the subject and was looking for a book to introduce me to Nixon, Kissinger and Vietman. I feel now like I have a much better understanding of the subject.

I was a bit skeptical at first as I thought the author the might be too biased towards his subjects, but by the end of the book I thought the story told was very well balanced. I had a very basic understanding of who Nixon and Kissinger were, I used to think of them almost as pantomime villains. Now I know the truth that they were much more complicated, Nixon especially who seemed to be loved and hated by the left and right of the political spectrum with equal measure.

Although this book might not go into too much depth for the academic professional, if you're a new comer to the subject like me then this book would give you an excellent introduction to the flawed characters of Nixon and Kissinger. I'm now looking for a book that covers Vietman from the fifties up to 1968.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting but really depressing book, 7 Jun 2008
By 
J. Bowen "Jamie Bowen" (Hampstead London) - See all my reviews
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If you ask people to describe Richard Nixon, they'd probably mention Watergate and Foreign Policy and use phrases like cunning, paranoia, bunker mentality and his desperate need to be number one. If they knew him better, they might even describe him as anti-semitic, for while he wasn't a Klan style racist, there was an element of anti-semitism to his character (as I learned from this book).

If you asked those same people to describe Henry Kissinger, they might mention his shuttle diplomacy and Nobel Peace Prize (for his work on Vietnam of all places) and use terms like ego, intellectual snobbery, and desperate need to be considered a leader. If they knew him better, they might mention his Jewishness.

This book examines the strange relationship between Nixon and Kissinger as they try to use foreign policy to deflect criticism of their personality and policies in other areas (inflation was 15% while they were in office).

It's a sad and rather depressing book. Both Nixon and Kissinger are presented as people who have some policy successes (the recognition of Red China, detente with Russia and the SALT I negotiations), but who have too many personality and policy faults (their over stated egos, along with Watergate and the failure in Vietnam) to become they could have been (in my humble opinion).

Overall, the book is interesting, you'll learn a good amount about two of the most interesting individuals in modern American political history. It does, however, leaves some holes. Firstly, the intricacies related to the formal replacement of Taiwan as the "true representatives of the Chinese people" in the UN isn't really covered (despite much of the book being about developing a relationship between America and China). This might be because Taiwan was treated shabbily (as suggested by Doro Bush Koch in her book about George Bush Snr, who was the US Ambassador to the UN at the time) or because they were outwitted by Mao on the issue (as has been suggested by Jon Halliday and Jung Chang in their biography of Mao), but whatever the reasoning, its implementation isn't covered in the detail I'd like.

Secondly, when Dallek introduces the book, he claims that Nixon's drinking, drug abuse and mental instability (in the run up to Watergate) should have been used to unseat him under Article 25 of the Constitution. While you can see why he might make that decision (given the evidence he produces), I would argue he overstates his case, a view that's given some creedance by the fact that Nixon's doctor's son wouldn't release Nixon's medical records.

Finally, Nixon's anti-semetism is pretty much glazed over, as is Kissinger's willingness to let Nixon be fairly anti-semitic. Blandly stating that Nixon's lower middle class upbringing (and Kissinger's pathological need to be Secretary of State) as the cause of their respective behaviour is an oversimplification, and I would argue that it needs to be examined in greater detail, if I'm honest.

Other than that, this is a good book. You'll learn a lot about American foreign policy and 2 men who framed the last half of the 20th Century in America.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful examination of a unique political partnership, 2 July 2012
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Robert Dallek has produced a stunning book. He shows both the brilliance of both men and the darker, cynical side of both mens characters. The book is centered on foriegn policy,with little on Watergate. Highly reccommend this book to anyone interested not just in policy issues but how peoples emotions can influence the course of events.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good Account of Two Men's Conduct of US Foreign Policy, 3 Jan 2012
By 
Mr. S. Millman "Busbybabe" (London, England) - See all my reviews
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I think that this is a much better book than tends to comes out of the reviews I have seen on Amazon. It does not aim either to propound a particular viewpoint (e.g. that N and K were war-criminals) though it mentions that some of their actions may have been illegal; nor does it aim to be a full account of the Nixon Adminstration (any more than do Bob Woodward's books on Watergate). It does what it says on the tin - it provides a thorough factual description of how two men conducted US foreign policy for about 5 years, to the virtual exclusion of the State Department, with a couple of introductory chapters on their backgrounds.

It points out that N and K much earlier in their careers each offered views that justice and / or truthfulness would ultimately be subordinate to the exercise or maintenance of power (whether personal or sovereign) and thus infers that their behaviour in the White House should not be unexpected. It also gives the lie - literally - to parts of the voluminous Kissinger memoires, which on some important matters are far from truthful. Of course, the PRC and USSR leaders of that time had very similar, cynicalsets of values, so N and K got on better with them than much of the US electorate.

All this Robert Dallek does in a calm, non-polemical way (though not one which will endear itself to Kissinger's many admirers), with good human data and supporting evidence from Nixon staff members such as Haldemann and Erlichmann, in a pretty readable book of just about digestible containable length - 620-odd pages ex notes etc. I commend it to those who want a balanced, mainly factual account of US foreign policy in this important period - the aftershocks of which have clearly been influencing the foreign and defence policies of the Obama administration with respect to Iraq and Afghanistan now that we are out of the Cold War Warrior period.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, authoritative and illuminating, 30 Oct 2007
Dallek's book is not intended to be a comprehensive history of Nixon's administration. Rather he sets out to map the contours of one of the most interesting, impactful and controversial political relationships of the 20th century. He does this lucidly, balancing his portraits of the two men with the historical moment that defined them and they themselves defined. He draws on a range of sources and delivers many fascinating stories as well as some new insight and conclusions. Recommended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Irreconcilable Similarities, 30 April 2007
By 
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
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There are several excellent books already in print by or about Richard M. Nixon and/or Henry A. Kissinger, notably Memoirs of Richard Nixon and Richard Reeves' President Nixon: Alone in the White House as well as Walter Isaacson's biography of Kissinger and The Kissinger Transcripts: The Top-Secret Talks With Beijing and Moscow. However, with access to a wealth of sources previously unavailable, Robert Dallek has written what will probably remain for quite some time the definitive study of one of U.S. history's most fascinating political partnerships.

I defer to other reviewers to suggest parallels between the wars in Viet Nam and Iraq, especially when citing this passage in Dallek's Preface: "Arguments about the wisdom of the war in Iraq and how to end the U.S. involvement there, relations with China and Russia, what to do about enduring Mideast trensions between Israelis and Arabs, and the advantages and disadvantages of an imperial presidency can, I believe, be usefully considered in the context of a fresh look ast Nixon and Kissinger and the power they wielded for good and ill."

Until reading Dallek's book, I was unaware of the nature and extent of what Nixon and Kissinger shared in common. Of greatest interest to me was the almost total absence of trust in others (including each other) as, separately and together, they sought to increase their power, influence, and especially, their prestige. In countless ways, they were especially petty men and, when perceiving a threat, could be vindictive. They seemed to bring out the worst qualities in each other, as during their self-serving collaboration on policies "good and ill" in relationships with other countries such as China, Russia, Viet Nam, Pakistan, and Chile. Neither seemed to have must interest in domestic affairs (except for perceived threats to their respective careers) and Nixon once characterized them as "building outhouses in Peoria."

According to Dallek, "Nixon's use of foreign affairs to overcome impeachment threats in 1973-1974 are a distubring part of the administration's history. Its impact on policy deserves particular consideration, as does the more extensive use of international relations to serve domestic political goals throughout Nixon's presidency. Nixon's competence to lead the country during his impeachment cruisis also requires the closest possible scrutiny."

Most experts on this troubled period agree that the ceasefire agreement with North Viet Nam in 1973 was essentially the same as one that could have been concluded years before. However, both Nixon and Kissinger waited until after Nixon's re-election in1972 before ending a war that (by1966) Kissinger had characterized as "unwinnable." According to Dallek, with access to 2,800 hours of Nixon tapes and 20,000 pages of Kissinger telephone transcripts, Kissinger would "say almost anything privately to Nixon in the service of his ambition." Nixon referred to opponents of the war as "communists." As the Watergate crisis intensified, Meanwhile, Kissinger conducted press briefings that were "part reality, part fantasy, and part deception" and referred to Democratic senators critical of the administration as "traitors."

Although they were in constant collaboration until Nixon's resignation, Nixon and Kissinger were never very close. Anti-Semitic elements in Nixon's personality have been well-documented and certainly had some influence on his attitude toward Kissinger. At one point, he recommended (through John Ehrlichman) that Kissinger needed psychiatric therapy and should obtain it. Kissinger frequently referred to Nixon as "the meatball mind," "our drunken friend," and "That madman." It is certainly discomforting to realize that these two men, working together over a period of several years, made decisions and pursued policies that affected hundreds of millions of people throughout the world, "for good and ill."

I am now eager to read two other books (soon to be published) that may perhaps provide new insights and additional information about a political partnership that was probably doomed from the beginning because of so many irreconcilable similarities. Specifically Elizabeth Drew's Richard Nixon (part of "The American Presidents" series) and Jeremi Suri's Henry Kissinger and the American Century. However, I think Dallek's probing analysis will remain the definitive source of whatever can be known about these "partners in power."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Present for an Aunty., 30 Mar 2014
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Excellent read, hard to put down.
I read it before posting.

We wanted a hardback but it was out of print!
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4.0 out of 5 stars a brilliant study of statesmanship and political genius, 25 Jan 2011
This is a very readable and in places a rather critical analysis of the Nixon Kissinger relationship and how far it influenced and drove US foreign policy in the early 70s. Nixon's political cunning, ruthlessness and inner demons, as well as Kissinger's intellectual brilliance, ego and ambition, are all laid bare. The book is densely packed with anecdotes and authoritative research from extensive source materials about Nixon's historic overtures to China, his pursuit of detente with Brezhnev, his misjudgements over Chile and India-Pakistan, the dogged pursuit of peace in the Middle East and his rather self serving and opportunistic approach to ending the Vietnam war. Finally, the shadow that Watergate cast over Nixon's foreign policy is assessed in some depth too. After reading the book I felt more informed about what drove two of the most fascinating practitioners of 20th century international diplomacy.
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Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power
Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power by Robert Dallek (Audio CD - May 2007)
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