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Henry Kissinger's Biography
German-American government official, advisor, negotiator and Secretary of State under President Nixon who was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977. Urbane, multilingual and brilliant, he served as Director of the Harvard University Defense Study Programs 1958-1969 and was a Professor of Government at Harvard, 1962. He is the author of “Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy,” 1957, “The White House Years,” 1979, “For The Record,” 1982, “Years of Upheaval,” 1982 and “”Diplomacy” in 1994.
The man who shaped American foreign policy in the late ’60s and early ’70s and who coined the phrase “power is the greatest aphrodisiac,” spent a traumatic boyhood in Nazi Germany in an Orthodox Jewish family that marked Kissinger with “an odd mixture of ego and insecurity that can come from growing up smart yet persecuted.” Escaping further persecutions, the family emigrated to America in 1938 where, living in New York, the 15-year-old Heinz changed his name to Henry and displayed great eagerness to please his teachers. Attending Harvard University, he joined the faculty in 1958 where he remained until Nelson Rockefeller drafted him from the classrooms of academia to become his advisor in 1969. That same year, he was appointed as assistant to President Nixon for National Security Affairs. Upon meeting First Lady Patricia Nixon for the first time, he praised her husband highly. “Haven’t you seen through him yet?” she replied.
While Kissinger privately referred to Nixon as “meatball mind” and “a basket case,” he became the foremost American figure in negotiations to end the Viet Nam War during the Nixon administration. In negotiations he was known for his strong penchant for duplicity and for being a complex, brilliant, dedicated diplomat who, at the same time, was secretive, manipulative and obsequious. When a peaceful agreement was finally reached in Viet Nam in 1973, earning Kissinger the Nobel Prize, his unique style of “shuttle diplomacy” won the respect of President Gerald Ford, who utilized Kissinger’s mediating skills to bring about peace between Israel and the Arab states. Following a coup between these two warring factions, Kissinger was called “the twentieth century’s greatest diplomatic technician” and according to the Gallop Poll, the “most admired man in America.”
After Ford’s administration ended in 1977, Kissinger became a member of the faculty at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and headed a bi-partisan committee on Central America for President Ronald Reagan in 1983.
In the mid ’80s, Kissinger was granted a five-year $350,000 loan from Goldman Sachs and three other banks to open his own consulting firm of “Kissinger Associates,” with offices in New York and Washington, where he is a “statesman for hire” and purveys strategic advice to private corporations. In addition, he undertakes diplomatic assignments for business firms and serves as national security advisor to their chairmen. Despite a complete lack of experience in business, his loans were paid in full within two years. While Kissinger enjoys and cultivates celebrity status in academics, politics and world government, he is known to shroud any business dealings with complete secrecy. He successfully juggles his roles in the ’90s as of media commentator, corporate consultant and unofficial government advisor.
Kissinger’s marriage to Anne Fleischer in 1949 ended in divorce in 1964. They had two children, Elizabeth and David. He made a second marriage to Nancy Maginnes on 3/30/1974 who nursed him through a heart bypass operation on 2/10/1981. They make their home in New York City. In 1999, the third and concluding volume of his memoirs was published, “Years of Renewal.”
In early December 2002, President Bush appointed Kissinger as chairman of a commission investigating the Sept 11th terrorist attacks. Within two weeks, the former secretary of state abruptly resigned on 12/13/2002. Two days prior, former Sen. George Mitchell, D-Maine, stepped down as the panel’s vice-chairman. The twin resignations came as the commission hoped to begin its work next month and after disputes about its organization and its authority to issue subpoenas.
The 81-year-old former Secretary of State underwent an angioplasty on March 29, 2005 in New York City.
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