Niall Ferguson on Book TV
Historian Niall Ferguson discusses his book Kissinger: 1923-1968: The Idealist which looks at the early life of Henry Kissinger. Mr. Ferguson is interviewed by Carla Anne Robbins, Council on Foreign Relations Adjunct Senior Fellow.
A fascinating defence of Volume1 of his hagiography of Dr Kissinger.
I can see why Dr K selected him. And it was not his Britishness, but rather his limited critical insight, already displayed in his volume on the Rothschilds, where he was able to overlook and trivialize the extent of their bribery of politicians, their attempts to manipulate the media, and the political impact of their dominance of the international bond market. Ferguson’s valiant attempts to whitewash Dr K’s help to Nixon during the campaign is remarkable and has been challenged by numerous reviewers of the book. Nevertheless, Dr K must be pleased.
I have not read this book yet, but will comment on it for Part 2 of my article on Ferguson.
Robbins frequently seems surprised at the lengths to which Ferguson will shill. I started reading the book myself. In the Introduction alone there are multiple outrageous statements per page. He feels the need to attack every previous book and article; they’re all wrong according to the master whitewasher.
That he is whitewashing Kissinger has been commented on in less than favorable terms by those reviewers who are not nearly as overawed by Kissinger’s supposed brilliance (Ferguson has repeatedly demonstrated he has a “I see the light” moment when he is in Kissinger’s presence). When I finally get hold of the book I have no doubt I will find much to take exception to, while at the same time there will be many nuggets of value — as is the case in his deeply flawed volumes on the Rothschilds — due to his privileged access to Kissinger’s personal papers. But that very access has largely been predicated on the assumption, well demonstrated one would now think, that Ferguson would deliver a favorable interpretation and would make the mistake of thinking accessing some of K’s personal notes somehow overrules other records, particularly from his period in power, that demonstrate both his serious character faults (his ruthless ambition, his talent for backstabbing, his deepseated dishonesty, and his bureaucratic behavior as a classic “kiss up, kick down” sort of guy) and the moral vacuum that was and still is at the heart of his much vaunted foreign policy advice.
Kissinger is a contentious and important figure, justifiably so because of his outsize influence on US foreign policy and the fact he has long been the bug bear, for wildly different reasons for both Left and Right, and for conspiracists. But despite my misgivings about both the subject of this book, and Kissinger’s motives in selecting Ferguson, and Ferguson’s inherent biases and tendency to play the sycophant to the rich, powerful and (in)famous, I think Ferguson’s tome will add some additional information on Kissinger that has not been seen before, but let’s not make the mistake of thinking that Ferguson’s insights and interpretations of that evidence will be of much value.