Oliver Wendell Holmes reportedly said of FDR: he has "a second-class intellect but a first-class temperament." In your view, what class intellect and temperament did Kissinger the diplomat have?Author Interviews: Jeremi Suri.
Henry Kissinger is a first class intellect. He is broadly read and he has a penetrating mind. He has a remarkable talent for digesting, ordering, and critically evaluating mountains of material. He identifies core problems and mobilizes diverse ideas and concepts to offer coherent and practical solutions. This combination of big ideas and effective steps for action is what has long made Kissinger an attractive advisor for presidents. Kissinger does not, however, possess a first class temperament. He is self-centered, incredibly suspicious, and monumentally insecure. Part of this comes, as my book shows, from his experiences as a German-Jew in Weimar and American society. Part of this also comes from his personality. Kissinger is a man who learned to ingratiate the elites he had to please, but he has enormous trouble forming congenial bonds with others. [read on]