William Shawcross (1979)

A shocking tale of aggression and duplicity, where a country whose only fault is to be too weak to resist incursions by another is attacked and undermined by a third country still claiming the moral high ground.

Alost every character comes out badly from this story – but especially Henry Kissinger, whose willingness to sacrifice foreign lives while protecting his own reputation and influence are quite breathtaking. It’s troubling that Nixon’s fall was for reasons other than his orders to bomb Cambodia and his willingness to lie to Congress (whom he was constitution-bound to consult and inform). The fact that the Cambodian leadership of Lon Nol and Sihanouk were also corrupt and self-serving offers no excuse. The US Joint Chiefs stood behind him because it suited them to extend the Vietnam War rather than end it, even after the point that they knew it was un-winnable and were extracting their own ground forces. Together these people all opened the door for the Khmer Rouge and the killing fields that followed, and did so knowing the risks they were running.

4/5. Finished Saturday 18 May, 2024.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)