LEADERSHIP: Six Studies in World Strategy | Henry Kissinger, Penguin Press, (2022) 528p.
Another superb read from one of the world’s most astute living diplomats - Henry Kissinger.
The author uses the stories of six dead national leaders to convey varied aptitudes inherent in national leadership: Konrad Adenauer (Humility), Charles de Gaulle (Will), Richard Nixon (Equilibrium), Anwar Sadat (Transcendence), Lee Khan Yew (Excellence), and Margaret Thatcher (Conviction).
It’s well done and enlightening on almost every page. Adenauer and Yew were two that I had not previously encountered, and I found their stories fascinating. Kissinger puts himself center stage whenever possible with each- not just Nixon. Because he had some interaction with each of these figures, we learn of those exchanges in vivid detail yet in a manner that is less self-promotional than most modern writers.
It is noted that each of these leaders served in a world shifting from an aristocratic to one (ironically, a meritocratic the original Platonic concept of an aristocracy). The author observes that the six were steeped in similar middle-class values: personal discipline, self-improvement, charity, patriotism, self-belief, faith in their societies, gratitude for the past, and confidence in the future. Other than Yew, all were raised in strong religious traditions that empowered them with self-control and orientated them with a long view.
Kissinger calls it a striking paradox - but it seems not so much a bug but a feature of leadership -they were each divisive. Bold visions are always met with controversy.
In conclusion, the author wryly observes, “The civic patriotism that once lent prestige to public service appears to have been outflanked by an identity-based factionalism….” Fair. Highly recommended for those interested in a deeper literacy into current events.