Kissinger the Negotiator
Lessons from Dealmaking at the Highest Level
Foreword by Henry Kissinger
In this groundbreaking, definitive guide to the art of negotiation, three Harvard professors—all experienced negotiators—offer a comprehensive examination of one of the most successful dealmakers of all time.
Politicians, world leaders, and business executives around the world—including every President from John F. Kennedy to Donald J. Trump—have sought the counsel of Henry Kissinger, a brilliant diplomat and historian whose unprecedented achievements as a negotiator have been universally acknowledged. Now, for the first time, Kissinger the Negotiator provides a clear analysis of Kissinger’s overall approach to making deals and resolving conflicts—expertise that holds powerful and enduring lessons.
James K. Sebenius (Harvard Business School), R. Nicholas Burns (Harvard Kennedy School of Government), and Robert H. Mnookin (Harvard Law School) crystallize the key elements of Kissinger’s approach, based on in-depth interviews with the former secretary of state himself about some of his most difficult negotiations, an extensive study of his record, and many independent sources. Taut and instructive, Kissinger the Negotiator mines the long and fruitful career of this elder statesman and shows how his strategies apply not only to contemporary diplomatic challenges but also to other realms of negotiation, including business, public policy, and law.
Essential reading for current and future leaders, Kissinger the Negotiator is an invaluable guide to reaching agreements in challenging situations.
Sebenius, Burns, and Mnookin, professors of business, government, and law, respectively, insightfully chronicle key moments from Henry Kissinger's diplomatic career, and less successfully try to relate them to the art of business negotiations. The authors' knowledge of their subject can't be faulted: they extensively cite Kissinger's speeches and memoirs, as well as new interviews with him conducted for the book. Topics include the secret talks on ending the Vietnam War, the push for U.S. rapprochement with China, and the "shuttle diplomacy" undertaken to end the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. The authors find some promising tactics, such as Kissinger's ability to simultaneously "zoom out" to the big picture and "zoom in" on his counterparts' specific traits. As an example of the latter skill, they cite his memos to Nixon about the contrasting personalities of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai before the president's historic visit to China in 1973. However, the book's historical analyses overshadow its intended function as a repository of business advice, which receives short shrift throughout. The authors do share Kissinger's 15 main negotiating tactics, such as "think strategically, act opportunistically," in an appendix, this time sans historical context, but the gesture comes off as too little, too late.