Henry Kissinger and the American Century

April 28, 2008 // 4:00pm5:30pm
Event Co-sponsors: 
History and Public Policy Program
International Security Studies

The Wilson Center's Cold War International History Project will sponsor an in-depth discussion of a new book by Jeremi Suri entitled Henry Kissinger and the American Century


Jeremi Suri, a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he teaches international history, the history of the Cold War, and the history of US foreign relations. Professor Suri received his Ph.D. in 2001 from Yale University, where his dissertation was recognized as both the best dissertation in international history, and the best dissertation in the humanities for that year. Suri is the author of many books and journal articles, including most recently Henry Kissinger and the American Century.

Melvyn P. Leffler, the Edward Stettinius Professor of American History at the University of Virginia, and a former Wilson Center Public Policy Scholar. Dr. Leffler is a specialist on the history of American foreign policy, and is the author of several books, most recently, For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War.

Thomas S. Blanton, Director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, will chair this event. His books include White House E-Mail: The Top Secret Computer Messages the Reagan-Bush White House Tried to Destroy. He also co-authored The Chronology, on the Iran-contra affair, and served as a contributing author to three editions of the ACLU's authoritative guide, Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws.

In his new book, Suri endeavors to explore the philosophical roots of Henry Kissinger's actions as national security adviser and secretary of state under President Nixon, finding those roots in a Jewish boy's experiences of a weak Weimar regime's fall to genocidal Nazism. At the end of the day, in Suri's account, Kissinger's philosophy boiled down to the need to back democracy with muscle. America, alone of the free countries, said Kissinger, was strong enough to assure global security against the forces of tyranny. Only America had both the power and the decency to inspire other peoples who struggled for identity, for progress and dignity.

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Experts & Staff

  • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • Laura Deal // Catalog Specialist
  • Pieter Biersteker // Editorial Assistant
  • Charles Kraus // Program Associate
  • Evan Pikulski // Program Assistant
  • James Person // Deputy Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project