For years, Henry Kissinger shaped US foreign policy like no other statesman. As National Security Adviser and Secretary of State under US President Richard Nixon, the German-born politician wielded America’s power with severity.

During his tenure as National Security Adviser and Secretary of State under US President Richard M. Nixon, the United States escalated attacks on the enemy Vietcong in the Vietnam War. In the years that followed, the conflict claimed the lives of another 100,000 Vietnamese and more than 25,000 American soldiers. The neighboring and neutral nation of Cambodia was also bombed by US planes in contravention of international law. Kissinger eventually negotiated an end to the Vietnam War in secret talks with North Vietnamese leader Lê Đức Thọ. Both men were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 (an honor accepted by Kissinger but refused by Lê Đức Thọ).

With regard to China, Kissinger was viewed as an architect of détente and a pioneer of rapprochement between Washington and Beijing, a process he paved the way for in secret trips to the Middle Kingdom. When the Yom Kippur War broke out in 1973 with the Egyptian and Syrian attack on Israel, Kissinger once again assumed the role of mediator and brought about a cessation of hostilities.

Kissinger’s tenure also witnessed the Chilean army’s coup d’état against President Salvador Allende, supported by the CIA with the full knowledge of the Secretary of State. Kissinger was also criticized for green lighting the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in violation of international law.

Although he left government in 1977, Henry Kissinger was one of the chief advisers to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Now a Harvard professor, Kissinger, who was born in the Bavarian city of Fürth, personally knew almost all the key statesmen and women of the second half of the 20th century and was a close friend of former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt.

In 2007, documentary filmmaker Stephan Lamby had the opportunity to quiz Henry Kissinger on his political life and actions. The outcome was an extraordinary conversation about power and morals. The meticulously researched film also hears the views of many distinguished contemporary witnesses, including George W. Bush, Alexander Haig, James R. Schlesinger, Helmut Schmidt, Norman Mailer and Carl Bernstein. The film makes use of private Super 8 footage and secret wiretaps from the Oval Office providing some unusual insights into the White House of the 1970s. The secrets of superpower America, bombings, CIA operations, undercover missions to infiltrate enemy governments, the wiretapping of employees – all cast in a new light by the recollections of a man at the center of power: Henry Kissinger.

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