Reckless

Henry Kissinger and the Tragedy of Vietnam
Narrated by: Jeff Bottoms
Length: 10 hrs and 4 mins
Categories: History, Americas
3.7 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Henry Kissinger's role in the Vietnam War prolonged the American tragedy and doomed the government of South Vietnam.

The American war in Vietnam was concluded in 1973 after eight years of fighting, bloodshed, and loss. Yet the terms of the truce that ended the war were effectively identical to what had been offered to the Nixon administration four years earlier. Those four years cost America and Vietnam thousands of lives and billions of dollars, and they were the direct result of the supposed master plan of the most important voice in American foreign policy: Henry Kissinger.

Using newly available archival material from the Nixon Presidential Library, Kissinger's personal papers, and material from the archives in Vietnam, Robert K. Brigham punctures the myth of Kissinger as an infallible mastermind. Instead, he constructs a portrait of a rash, opportunistic, and suggestible politician. It was personal political rivalries, the domestic political climate, and strategic confusion that drove Kissinger's actions. There was no great master plan or Bismarckian theory that supported how the US continued the war or conducted peace negotiations. Its length was doubled for nothing but the ego and poor judgment of a single figure.

This distant tragedy, perpetuated by Kissinger's actions, forever changed both countries. Now, perhaps for the first time, we can see the full scale of that tragedy and the machinations that fed it.

©2018 Robert K. Brigham (P)2018 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"A welcome, much-needed reexamination of the secret negotiations that led to America's withdrawal from the Vietnam War. Using impressive new research, Robert K. Brigham skillfully analyzes the origins of the 1973 Paris Agreement and persuasively debunks the myth of Henry Kissinger as a diplomat of rare ability." (George C. Herring, author of America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975)

"Brigham offers a persuasive argument that [Kissinger] lied, misled, and deceptively outmaneuvered other policy makers in setting Vietnam War policy from 1969 to 1975, with disastrous results.... This all-but-total condemnation...confirms what many Kissinger skeptics have believed for decades and may change the minds of some who have believe him to be a foreign policy guru." (Publishers Weekly)

"One of the most compelling elements of the book is Brigham's portrayal of Kissinger's manipulation of an emotionally insecure Nixon. The president often responded by expressing doubts about Kissinger's methods, but he did Kissinger's bidding more often than not out of desperation to win over the American electorate during the 1972 election cycle." (Kirkus Reviews)

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More Contextually Misconstrued Handwringing

Geopolitical history and sausage making are similar. I've read several criticisms of Kissinger and they all share the same anecdotal view of history, a connecting the dots sales pitch portrayed as historical truth. This skewed moralist view of the world is mostly incompatible with reality nor is it results-based. To a moralist, there are no consequences to the actions they propose instead. The only thing "reckless" about this book was the author's approach to objectivity. Of all the reads on Kissinger (not written by Kissinger), I believe the only one worth the time is Walter Isaacson's biography of him.