Master of the Game: Henry Kissinger and the Art of Middle East Diplomacy by Martin Indyk

Below title in red block letters, the cover shows a black and white photo of a young Henry Kissinger gesturing off the page. His suit blends into the black background.

by Tony B.

Foreign policy is rightfully in the collective conscious right now. Martin Indyk’s newest work Master of the Game: Henry Kissinger and the Art of Middle East Diplomac takes an insider’s look into the mind and methods of one of the godfathers of foreign policy, Henry Kissinger. The book serves as an academic and personal review of Henry Kissinger’s diplomatic expertise in the Middle East, specifically his work in the peace negotiations from the Yom Kippur War forward. Indyk’s analysis is that Kissinger’s performance was brilliant for his vision, strategy, and understanding of history. While Kissinger was by no means flawless, his understanding of the delicate balances of power, willingness to take risks, and Machiavellian understanding of his own influence made him the master of the game.

Master of the Game is richly detailed, with sources pulled from American, Arab, and Israeli sources, as well as eight personal interviews with Kissinger himself. I was struck by how Indyk captured a lot of Kissinger’s personal style of dealing with foreign counterparts and patterns of thought from those interviews. For example, Kissinger said that he missed Golda Meir’s stubbornness once Yitzhak Rabin’s government was sworn in. In this regard, the book provides highly desirable insight into Kissinger’s diplomatic thinking.

The author is an accomplished Middle Eastern statesman in his own right, both as special assistant to President Clinton and envoy to President Obama for the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations from 2013-2014. In serving in these diplomatic circles, Indyk has met, worked, and formed a relationship with his subject. These combined experiences make for a unique and well-informed assessment of Henry Kissinger’s diplomatic triumphs. Master of the Game deftly incorporates personal reflection and academic research of Henry Kissinger’s diplomatic efforts. Plentiful, factual citation meets anecdote and lived experiences to bring a personal understanding to Kissinger’s Realpolitik.

Tony is a Customer Service Specialist at HCLS Elkridge Branch. He is a history student at UMGC and enjoys not quite finishing books and falling down Wikipedia rabbit holes.

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