Robert Dallek is the author of John F. Kennedy: An Unfinished Life, 1917-1963 and he won the Bancroft Prize for his classic two-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson, Lone Star Rising and Flawed Giant. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Society of American Historians, for which he served as president in 2004-2005. He lives in Washington, D.C.
This abridged version of Dallek's study of the relationship between a president and his powerful secretary of state is read with precision by Conger. Dallek approved the audiobook's abridgment, which hits the high points of his 750-page doorstopper. Conger hints at imitating the deeply familiar voices of Dallek's twin protagonists without sliding into all-out parody. He drops his voice to a semigrowl for Nixon and adds a muted Central European flavor for Kissinger. For the most part, Conger hits the expected notes, emphasizing and underlining Dallek's narrative with understated flair. Those expecting spine-tingling excitement from the meeting and collision of these two powerful, ultimately destructive political forces may be disappointed by Conger's staid reading, but its allure lies in its solid, unobtrusive nature. Conger pulls listeners into Nixon and Kissinger's struggle by ceding center stage to them. Simultaneous release with the HarperCollins hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 12). (May) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Dallek, the author of such first-rate biographies as An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963, now offers an excellent reassessment of one of the most imposing foreign policy duos in U.S. history. Nixon and Kissinger both reveled in power and were driven by the hope of attaining greatness, expectations that were shattered in part by their mutual arrogance, cynicism, and need for constant reassurance. The author maintains that their partnership achieved important victories, notably the opening of China, detente with the Soviet Union, and Kissinger's shuttle diplomacy, which ended the 1973 Yom Kippur War at a time when Nixon was consumed by Watergate. However, such failures as the disastrous policies in Vietnam and Cambodia, which resulted in thousands of American and millions of Asian deaths; the toppling of the legitimately elected Allende government in Chile; and the willingness to use foreign policy as a means to secure Nixon's reelection and to downplay Watergate damaged America's reputation for decades. Both men spent the post-Nixon years writing many popular books--16 between them--in attempts to rehabilitate or enhance their reputations. Dallek's is an important analysis, based on recently available declassified records and includes important caveats for current policy makers. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/07.]--Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.