The author is a famed British historian who has written extensively on French and to a lesser extent, British history. Although I haven't read all of his previous books, the ones I have, including his trilogy on the battles for France in the Franco-Prussian War, World War I and World War II, I found very good. When this book was published I noted the change in topic for this author as well as the minimal fanfare it received. After reading Kissinger, 1973, The Crucial Year, I now understand the minimal splash the book made, suggesting that the author's change of venue may not have been a wise choice.
According to Horne's introduction, he was approached to write a full length biography on Henry Kissinger. After assessing the task, including Kissinger's own memoirs and literally the tons of raw data, i.e. the Kissinger papers, Horne declined the offer. Then after second thoughts Horne approached his publisher and Kissinger and requested this project - "a year in the life" of Kissinger volume - which sounded like a sound plan, providing a focus on the subject's turbulent times.
Unfortunately the plan soon goes awry with the reading. First, for anyone familiar with Kissinger and the Nixon administration, there is very little if anything new here. Second, the author bounces back and forth in chronological time with anecdotes and observations while filling in the back-story of Kissinger's actions, trips, failures and accomplishments, as he dealt with the end of the Vietnam War, the Yom Kippur War, (the best section of the book), and détente. Lurking in the background is Watergate, which is mentioned repeatedly although never fully developed.
What this reader found most disconcerting though was the author's insertion into the narrative of both himself - including dinners, lunches, banquets and private meetings with the subject and others over the last 30+ years - and inexplicably, the titles of just about every book he has written. At times it was unclear if this book was a dry run at an autobiography or at the very least least an attempt by Horne to be "coaxed" into writing one.
Much like Robert Dallek's book of 2007, Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power, although for different reasons, I was disappointed after finishing this book. Walter Issacson's 1992 biography is still by far the best on this subject.