Marginal Countries

Mario Del Pero

Photoplay: Robert Starkweather

The new biography of Henry Kissinger, The Idealist, by the British historian Niall Ferguson has been long in the making. Legends circulated among fellow historians about the legions of research assistants allegedly dispatched by Ferguson to every corner of the globe in search of even the most inaccessible archival materials. The unique access granted by Kissinger to his personal papers added another element of curiosity: what would Ferguson find there? How juicy, if not sensational, would the documents be? We all expected a blockbuster — pugnacious, contentious and provocative — by a master of provocations, and certainly a great narrator, as Ferguson undeniably is. What we got, instead, is an incredibly long, very repetitive, and fairly tedious book — which ends when the real story possibly begins, in 1968, after the decision of the newly elected president, Richard Nixon, to select Kissinger as his national security adviser, and the former Harvard professor finally gets his long-awaited and hunted chance to make history. For the post-1968 years — Kissinger’s controversial experience in government and his later lucrative activity as a global consultant and much sought media sage — we will have to wait at least a few more years.

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