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Publisher's Summary

Henry Kissinger offers in World Order a deep meditation on the roots of international harmony and global disorder. Drawing on his experience as one of the foremost statesmen of the modern era - madvising presidents, traveling the world, observing and shaping the central foreign policy events of recent decades - Kissinger now reveals his analysis of the ultimate challenge for the 21st century: How to build a shared international order in a world of divergent historical perspectives, violent conflict, proliferating technology, and ideological extremism.

There has never been a true “world order”, Kissinger observes. For most of history, civilizations defined their own concepts of order. Each considered itself the center of the world and envisioned its distinct principles as universally relevant. China conceived of a global cultural hierarchy with the emperor at its pinnacle. In Europe, Rome imagined itself surrounded by barbarians; when Rome fragmented, European peoples refined a concept of an equilibrium of sovereign states and sought to export it across the world. Islam, in its early centuries, considered itself the world’s sole legitimate political unit, destined to expand indefinitely until the world was brought into harmony by religious principles. The United States was born of a conviction about the universal applicability of democracy - a conviction that has guided its policies ever since.

Now international affairs take place on a global basis, and these historical concepts of world order are meeting. Every region participates in questions of high policy in every other, often instantaneously. Yet there is no consensus among the major actors about the rules and limits guiding this process or its ultimate destination. The result is mounting tension.

Grounded in Kissinger’s deep study of history and his experience as national security advisor and secretary of state, World Order guides listeners through crucial episodes in recent world history. Kissinger offers a unique glimpse into the inner deliberations of the Nixon administration’s negotiations with Hanoi over the end of the Vietnam War, as well as Ronald Reagan’s tense debates with Soviet Premier Gorbachev in Reykjavík. He offers compelling insights into the future of US - China relations and the evolution of the European Union, and he examines lessons of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Taking listeners from his analysis of nuclear negotiations with Iran through the West’s response to the Arab Spring and tensions with Russia over Ukraine, World Order anchors Kissinger’s historical analysis in the decisive events of our time.

Provocative and articulate, blending historical insight with geopolitical prognostication, World Order is a unique work that could come only from a lifelong policy maker and diplomat. Kissinger is also the author of On China.

©2014 Henry Kissinger (P)2014 Penguin Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

“Dazzling and instructive...[a] magisterial new book.” (Walter Isaacson, Time)

"An astute analysis that illuminates many of today's critical international issues." (Kirkus Reviews)

What listeners say about World Order

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More retrospective than future oriented

Any additional comments?

There is much to like in this audiobook, which essentially plays out like an extended TED talk, provided you agree with Kissinger’s realpolitic take on nation states balance of power. As might be expected, he lays out his analysis/arguments in a thoughtful, logical progression and the sum amounts to a region by region history lesson on how nation states, motivated by self-interest, strive to achieve a balance of power with their neighbours/rivals so that no nation becomes too strong or too weak. Failure to achieve this balance creates a dangerous, destabilizing effect. In a sense, peace is maintained under this type of framework and World Order takes the reader through a history lesson on how this has evolved in various geopolitical regions over the last 500 years. The roots of HK’s worldview clearly haven’t evolved much over the past 50 years and at 91, it would probably be a bit folly to expect HK to change now. And hence, this underscores a fundamental weakness in World Order. As alternate theories aren’t offered, one doesn’t come away with the sense that this is true historical analysis, nor poli sci primer. As it focuses largely on the nation state, which arguably has less importance in the 21st century than it did in the previous, it hardly qualifies as a prescription either, though HK does touch on some of the challenges ahead (ie. Nuclear proliferation, non state groups, interconnected global communication). Still, I wouldn’t call World Order outdated, nor should it be tossed aside lightly; rather, listening to it is akin to spending the day with an elder sage, who still offers much wisdom and experience to impart but whose worldview is still firmly rooted in the past. It is worth the read as long as the reader always bears in mind that this is The World According to HK.

24 people found this helpful

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Kissinger is still sharp as ever

Kissinger delivers a powerful message of not only where our social and political landscape has been, but also why it was there. He describes a Europe obsessed with Christiandom and its evolution through hundreds of years to the semi-fractured union of nations we see today. His approach of the Muslim world of governance is done so without fear and from an academic standpoint that also resounds with his generation of experience.

Like anything written by Kissinger don't expect a light listen. Although not as deep a read as some of his other work, this book is certainly not your laymans guide to the CNN's Headlines.

19 people found this helpful

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A masterpiece - whatever you may think of H.K.

Across centuries of history, war, strategy, leaders, diplomacy, the reach is deep and wide. The ambition is fulfilled, throughout. The author's steady, sober, disciplined voice marches across this amazing canvas with stately, unrelenting clarity. I have never seen all this content in one place, or all these dots so lucidly connected. There is always something to refresh on, ponder, or feast on. For example, there is a fascinating passage comparing Nixon's approach to geo-strategy, and Nixon's strengths, limitations and achievements, in his phase of history, to those of Reagan. There is just enough of the character of these men insightfully invoked to make the comparison deeply revealing. And there is a compactness, discipline and unwavering tone and closeness-yet-distance in relation to the topics and flow of events. The one time I stopped short and felt quite estranged from the analysis was in the kindly words for George W. Bush's Iraq invasion decision and its backdrop of grand national hubris (my word), a decision I considered from the start to be one of the worst strategic calls in American history, and in the ensuing disorder, at this point (2016) feel even more firmly so, yet, the author circled back around and in incomparable velvet-gloved diplomatic language offered the needed critique and pointers to positive lessons (without ever being bombastic toward Bush). (I admit, history has a funny way of defying such neat models, over extended time.) This sort of author composure invites the reader to join in a very intelligent, calm, clear and deliberate sequence of thoughts about the subject matter, whatever the reader's own opinions and conclusions may be on a given point. There are major fruits to be had on many levels here. Admittedly, there is a whole different narrative others might offer about Kissinger and his times, but that's another book, and this one is exemplary, useful, and in my experience, unmatched. I recommend it without hesitation.

9 people found this helpful

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Enlightening

This book is a must for anyone studying International Relations, History, and Politics.
I only wish that I could have taken notes in the margins like I do with physical books.

4 people found this helpful

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Fascinating, comprehensive overview of world history

Very interesting, comprehensive look at world history and politics. Kissinger looks at every region of the world and their key countries evolution and conception of political order leading to present day.

3 people found this helpful

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A must read

This book should be required reading for every high school student. World Order explains how the world got to be this way, as well as a brief look at each of the major themes and players in the game.

3 people found this helpful

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Except Read

It looks like you are getting your PHD in history from Harvard university and Dr Kissinger is your professor.

3 people found this helpful

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Laborious Listen

While reviewing the shifting history of power in the world has a significant value, this was a pretty dry reading experience.

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Tough listen

I don't write reviews often but listeners need to know this audiobook was a bit of a struggle to get through. I love history and politics and most books relating to these subjects. That's why audibles summary of this book really drew me in. However, the narrator was monotone and very challenging to listen to.

2 people found this helpful

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Dry listen

Any additional comments?

There are alot of interesting insights in here, but it's not an easy book to listen to.

2 people found this helpful