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Lesson plan; the life and legacy of Henry Kissinger


Henry Kissinger turns 100 on the 25th of May, but his legacy has never been in worse shape. Though many commentators now speak of a “tortured and deadly legacy”, for decades Kissinger was lauded by all quarters of the political and media establishment. The Guardian 

  1. Begin by introducing Henry Kissinger to students. Explain that he was a German-born American diplomat and statesman who served as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.
  2. Next, review the key events in Kissinger’s life and career. Discuss his work as a professor of government at Harvard University, his role in the Vietnam War negotiations, and his efforts to improve relations between the United States and the Soviet Union.
  3. After reviewing Kissinger’s life and career, lead a discussion about his role in American foreign policy during the Cold War. Discuss his views on realpolitik and his use of détente to reduce tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union.
  4. Finally, lead a discussion about Kissinger’s legacy as a diplomat and statesman. Discuss his accomplishments, his critics, and his lasting impact on American foreign policy.



Reading material

PBS. Henry Kissinger celebrates 100th birthday, continues to advise on global affairs

CBS news Henry Kissinger, revered and reviled former U.S. diplomat, turns 100

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