28,000 Pages of Documents Show Kissinger as Negotiator and Policymaker in Real-time

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Today the National Security Archive announces the publication of the most comprehensive collection ever assembled of the memoranda of conversations (memcons) involving Henry Kissinger, one of the most acclaimed and controversial U.S. diplomats of the second half of the 20th century.

Published on-line in the Digital National Security Archive (ProQuest) as well in print-microfiche form, the 28,000-page collection is the result of a seven-year effort by the National Security Archive to collect every memcon that could be found through archival research and declassification requests. According to Kissinger biographer and president of the Aspen Institute Walter Isaacson, "Henry Kissinger's memos of conversation are an amazing, fascinating, and absolutely indispensable resource for understanding his years in power." Nearly word-for-word records of the meetings, the memcons place the reader in the room with Kissinger and world leaders, and future leaders, including Mao Zedong, Anwar Sadat, Leonid Brezhnev, Georges Pompidou, Richard Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Donald Rumsfeld, and George H.W. Bush.

The memcons show Kissinger at work from 1969 to early 1977 as policymaker, negotiator, and presidential adviser. They show him pursuing détente with the Soviet Union, rapprochement with China, strong ties with Europe and Japan, stability in the Middle East, and, most important, a diplomatic resolution to the Vietnam War. The near-verbatim transcripts vividly show Kissinger's style as negotiator, his use of flattery and humor, his outbursts, and his musings on U.S. interests and the use of power. They show Kissinger in the early days of the Nixon administration as his influence was growing as presidential adviser, at the height of power when he served simultaneously as Secretary of State and national security adviser, and later after President Ford fired him from his White House post. The documents are equally revealing of Kissinger's numerous interlocutors.

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