• Eva Strnadová

The Inevitability of Tragedy: Henry Kissinger and His World

Barry Gewen reviews 97 years of the American diplomat Henry Kissinger.




About the Author


Barry Gewen is an editor at he New York Times Book Review.


Kissinger's Intellectual Universe


Henry Kissinger has not held an official position since 1977 and has recently celebrated his 97th birthday. As an iconic diplomat of the 20th century, he inspired multiple scholars to write his autobiography. Niall Ferguson published Kissinger’s official biography Kissinger: 1923-1968: The Idealist (Penguin Press, 2015).


Critical accounts of Kissinger’s political careers are for instance Seymour M. Hersh’s Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House (Touchstone: 1984) and Christopher Hitches’ The Trial of Henry Kissinger (Twelve: 2012). How does Gewen’s book distinguish itself? It is valuable essentially for his account of Kissinger’s intellectual universe.


We dismiss or ignore him at our peril.”

Gewen’s perspective of Kissinger is appreciative. He argues that Kissinger’s realist philosophy is now urgently important as the United States rethinks its role in the world. This is shapes by the centrality of the national interest, the balance of power and the importance of diplomatic compromise.

Gewen reconstructs Kissinger’s intellectual universe shaped form his early age by Nazi Germany and the ascent of Adolf Hitler. Between morality and immorality, Gewen explores the ambivalence of Kissinger’s diplomacy.


Book reviewed: Barry Gewen, The Inevitability of Tragedy: Henry Kissinger and His World (W. W. Norton & Company, 2020).