The Vietnam War cost America and Vietnam thousands of lives and billions of dollars, and it was 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.
Robert K. Brigham is the Shirley Ecker Boskey Professor of History and International Relations at Vassar College. Colonel Suzanne Nielsen is a professor of political sciences and the head of the Department of Social Sciences at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. She is co-author of the textbook American National Security (2018) and writes on civil-military relations, organizational change, and cyber policy and strategy.