Secretaries of State Since WWII

This section gives information on each Secretary of State since World War II.  In addition to brief text and references, video clips on several are also included.



Henry A. Kissinger -- 1973-1977


Henry Kissinger was the dominant figure in U.S. foreign policy during the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, from 1969 to 1977, first as National Security Advisor and then as Secretary of State. A proponent of global strategic thinking and behind-the-scenes diplomatic maneuver, he conducted personal, secret negotiations with the Soviet Union that helped establish the policy of détente and lay the ground work for the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT), while his secret trip to China in 1971 paved the way for Nixon’s dramatic 1972 visit to Beijing. As Secretary of State, his “shuttle diplomacy” between Israel, Egypt and Syria helped bring about a troop-disengagement after the 1973 Middle East War. Although initially a hard-liner on the Vietnam War, he later negotiated the cease-fire agreement ending that war, for which he shared the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize with Le Duc Tho (who refused it). Within the Western Hemisphere he strongly supported anti-communist governments and out-of-power political forces.

  • Hanhimaki, James M. The Flawed Architect: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • Isaacson, Walter. Kissinger: A Biography. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992.
  • Kissinger, Henry A. Diplomacy. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994.
  • Kissinger, Henry. Does America Need a Foreign Policy? Toward a Diplomacy for the 21st Century. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2001.
  • Kissinger, Henry A. White House Years. Boston: Little Brown, 1979.
  • Morris, Roger: Uncertain Greatness: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy. New York: Harper & Row, 1977.