<b>Two of the president's men</b>Like Nixon, Henry Kissinger who began as the president's national security adviser and then moved on to become his secretary of state achieved political power by a combination of raw intelligence, towering ambition and unremitting guile. And, just as with Nixon, it was never quite clear when Kissinger was animated by political conviction and when by quirks of personality. It is no wonder, then, that these two titanic egos would be drawn to each other, even as each railed against the other's perceived deficiencies. This condition of mutual dependence and its effect on national policy is what Robert Dallek examines in <b>Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power</b>.
Dallek sets the stage by noting that Kissinger acted as a double agent in the months leading up to the 1968 election that brought Nixon to power. Then identified politically with his patron, Nelson Rockefeller, Kissinger tapped into his Democratic sources to feed information to the Nixon camp. At the same time, he kept his distance from Nixon in case Hubert Humphrey won the election and had a proper place for him. While Kissinger was never particularly skilled or careful in concealing his duplicity, Nixon nonetheless chose him as his diplomatic right hand and de facto confessor. Dallek traces the dynamics of this odd duo through such sticky issues as the failing war in Vietnam (in spite of vows to end the war, Nixon committed more than 20,000 additional troops to the doomed cause and spread the conflict into Cambodia and Laos), the CIA overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile, continuing troubles in the Middle East, the arms race with Russia, the opening of China and, finally, the debacle of Watergate.