Kissinger, Henry (Alfred)(1923– ) political scientist, public official; born in Fuerth, Germany. He fled the Nazis to New York City with his parents in 1938. Even before he became professor of government at Harvard (1962–71), his book Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy (1957) had gained him national attention, and he served occasionally as adviser to presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson. As special national security adviser, National Security Council executive secretary (1969–71), and secretary of state (1971–76), he was chief architect of foreign policy in the Nixon and Ford administrations, emphasizing realpolitik and détente with China and the USSR, and negotiations between Arabs and Israelis. Although he had been a "hawk" in pursuit of the war in Vietnam, he received a Nobel Peace Prize (1973) for his role in the Vietnam cease-fire. Following revelations of his role in secret bombings in Cambodia, illegal wiretaps, and covert Central Intelligence Agency operations in Chile and elsewhere, his reputation suffered but he retired to a lucrative career as a lecturer and consultant. He headed a bipartisan committee on Central America for President Ronald Reagan in 1983. In later years he appeared occasionally on television as a commentator on world affairs, and he returned to his earlier role as a student of political history with such works as Diplomacy (1994).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.