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Niall Ferguson: Henry Kissinger Reappraised

To Christopher Hitchens, Kissinger was a war criminal who should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. To his admirers, he is the greatest strategic thinker America has ever produced.

No American statesman has been as revered and as reviled as Henry Kissinger. To the late Christopher Hitchens he was a war criminal who should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. To his admirers he is the greatest strategic thinker America has ever produced, the ‘indispensable man’, whose advice has been sought by every president from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush.

Internationally renowned Harvard historian Niall Ferguson came to the Intelligence Squared stage to discuss his new appraisal of Kissinger. In his view, far from being the amoral arch-realist portrayed by his enemies, Kissinger owed a profound debt to philosophical idealism.

In this exclusive London appearance, Ferguson was joined by the distinguished historian Andrew Roberts, who brought his expertise from writing about great statesmen of the past – from Napoleon to Churchill – to the examination of this controversial figure. How did Kissinger’s worldview develop over the course of his early years, as a Jew in Hitler’s Germany, a poor immigrant factory worker in New York, a GI at the Battle of the Bulge, and in the aftermath of the war an interrogator of Nazis? How should we assess Kissinger’s record during his time as adviser to Kennedy, Nelson Rockefeller and Richard Nixon, as he helped steer US policy during the Vietnam War, the rapprochement with China, and the Cold War?


Speakers

Chair

Andrew Roberts

Historian and author


Biographer and historian whose books include Salisbury: Victorian Titan; Masters and Commanders; The Storm of War and Napoleon the Great. His book Churchill: Walking with Destiny was acclaimed as 'undoubtedly the best single-volume life of Churchill ever written' by the Sunday Times and was a major bestseller in the UK and USA.
Featuring

Niall Ferguson

One of the UK’s most renowned historians, based at Stanford University


One of the UK’s most renowned historians. He is Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a senior faculty fellow of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard, where he served for twelve years as the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History. He is the author of fifteen books, including The Pity of War, The House of Rothschild, Empire, Civilization and Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist, which won the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Prize. He writes a syndicated weekly column, which appears in The Sunday Times, The Boston Globe and the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, and he is the founder and managing director of the advisory firm Greenmantle LLC. His most recent book, The Square and the Tower, is a New York Times bestseller. In March 2020, a three-part television adaptation, Niall Ferguson’s Networld, was released on PBS.