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Zbigniew Brzezinski

Zbigniew Brzezinski

America’s Grand Strategist

Justin Vaïsse

Translated by Catherine Porter

ISBN 9780674975637

Publication date: 03/26/2018

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As National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski (1928–2017) guided U.S. foreign policy at a critical juncture of the Cold War. But his impact on America’s role in the world extends far beyond his years in the White House, and reverberates to this day. His geopolitical vision, scholarly writings, frequent media appearances, and policy advice to decades of presidents from Lyndon Johnson to Barack Obama made him America’s grand strategist, a mantle only Henry Kissinger could also claim.

Both men emigrated from turbulent Europe in 1938 and got their Ph.D.s in the 1950s from Harvard, then the epitome of the Cold War university. With its rise to global responsibilities, the United States needed professionals. Ambitious academics like Brzezinski soon replaced the old establishment figures who had mired the country in Vietnam, and they transformed the way America conducted foreign policy.

Justin Vaïsse offers the first biography of the successful immigrant who completed a remarkable journey from his native Poland to the White House, interacting with influential world leaders from Gloria Steinem to Deng Xiaoping to John Paul II. This complex intellectual portrait reveals a man who weighed in on all major foreign policy debates since the 1950s, from his hawkish stance on the USSR to his advocacy for the Middle East peace process and his support for a U.S.-China global partnership. Through its examination of Brzezinski’s statesmanship and comprehensive vision, Zbigniew Brzezinski raises important questions about the respective roles of ideas and identity in foreign policy.


  • Reading Justin Vaïsse’s impressive new book, Zbigniew Brzezinski: America’s Grand Strategist, it is difficult to miss the echoes of our own times in the early 1970s…If the publication of Brzezinski could hardly be timelier, the author could not be more apt…The book’s achievement is in part corrective. Brzezinski rehabilitates a thinker and actor whom other writers have too often underestimated…Vaïsse’s broad panorama achieves important perspective on the Carter years…Readers will encounter in Brzezinski an eloquent introduction to a major strategic thinker and a thoughtful meditation upon the useful work that ideas and intellectuals can perform in the policy arena.

    —Daniel J. Sargent, Washington Post


  • Justin Vaïsse, a French historian of the United States, is Director of Policy Planning at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Book Details

  • 544 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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