Henry A. Kissinger's book, White House Years is the first of a three-volume trilogy that covers his remarkable career. This initial book begins with his appointment as National Security Advisor to Richard M. Nixon January 1969, and ends with the initialing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1973. Kissinger lets the reader know early on, they were under no illusions their journey would be easy or joyous.
He paints a vivid picture of Lyndon Johnson at Nixon's inauguration. If a political heavyweight like L.B.J. could be humbled by (sic) "Veetnam" no one could expect an easy time. Nixon, who had made a career of exhorting political opponents to, "Get tough with the Communists," now had his turn. He would either succeed where his predecessors had failed, or share L.B.J.s fate.
A series of opportunities to "get tough" with the Communists soon followed. The Soviets continued to harass Berlin; the Strateg!ic Arms Limitation (SALT) Talks provided critics from the right and left; West German leader Willie Brandt's Ostpolitik threatened the cohesion of the Atlantic Alliance and the Soviets' establishment of a submarine base at Cienfuegos, Cuba created a situation reminiscent of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Also, the election of Salvador Allende in Chile threatened to introduce a second, Communist state into the Western Hemisphere. Elsewhere, a crisis was brewing between India and Pakistan, and the powder keg in the Middle East threatened to explode at any time.
All these things occurred while the bulk of our military forces were mired in a seemingly endless stalemate in Vietnam that was tearing our nation apart and steadily draining both our coffers and our national resolve. Any of them had the potential to bring the two nuclear equipped superpowers into direct confrontation at any time. Kissinger calmly states: "Statesmen do not have the right to ask to serve only in simple t!imes." The early '70's were anything but, "simple times."
White House Years is a first-person account from a key player in each of these crises. Kissinger takes us step-for-step through the decision-making process they undertook before each action. These deliberations led to the most spectacular diplomatic initiative of our time: Nixon's historic trip to The Peoples Republic of China! The diplomatic opportunities made possible by this trip still shape our world today. Among other things it made Hanoi serious about negotiating an end to the War in Vietnam.