The notion of bringing Henry Kissinger to trial for war crimes will probably, for most readers, seem more absurd at the outset of Christopher Hitchens' The Trial Of Henry Kissinger than at its conclusion. A persuasive, damning account of Kissinger's activities as an international power-broker (and wielder) for Nixon and Ford, Trial portrays a man whose cloak of respectability conceals crimes on a par with those of the past century's worst despots. Does Hitchens exaggerate? He certainly offers no claims of objectivity, manifesting his position all the way down to his word choice. (Information never gets released, it's "disgorged.") The SALT treaty doesn't rate a mention, and the Kissinger-brokered thaw in relations with China gets checked only as a tangential development to his policies elsewhere in Asia. Of course, those policies deserve all the repeated dredgings-up they receive: not just the bombing of Cambodia and Laos, but Kissinger's not-so-tacit support of Indonesia's bloody East Timor invasion and the Bangladesh crisis of the early '70s. Other continents don't get off much easier, with Hitchens devoting chapters to the former Secretary Of State and National Security head's involvement with disastrous coups in Chile and Cyprus. By the time the author—using the same careful, if one-sided, reporting—implicates Kissinger in the planned assassination of a dissident Greek journalist, it seems well within the bounds of plausibility. Spotting a conspiracy of silence, Hitchens leaves the careful balancing of pros and cons to others. Here, he presents a platter and calls for the head.

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