Henry Alfred Kissinger (; born Heinz Alfred Kissinger, German: [haɪnts ˈalfʁɛt ˈkɪsɪŋɐ]; May 27, 1923) is an American diplomat and political scientist who served as the United States Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under the presidential administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Born in Germany, Kissinger was a Jewish refugee who fled the Nazi regime with his family in 1938. He became National Security Advisor in 1969 and later concurrently United States Secretary of State in 1973. For his actions negotiating a ceasefire in Vietnam, Kissinger received the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize under controversial circumstances, with two members of the committee resigning in protest. Kissinger later sought, unsuccessfully, to return the prize after the ceasefire failed.
A proponent of Realpolitik, Kissinger played a prominent role in United States foreign policy between 1969 and 1977. During this period, he pioneered the policy of détente with the Soviet Union, orchestrated the opening of relations with the People’s Republic of China, and negotiated the Paris Peace Accords, ending American involvement in the Vietnam War. Kissinger has also been associated with such controversial policies as CIA involvement in Chile and U.S. support for Pakistan, despite the genocide during the Bangladesh War. He is the founder and chairman of Kissinger Associates, an international consulting firm. Kissinger has been a prolific author of books on diplomatic history and international relations with over one dozen books authored.
General opinion of Henry Kissinger is strongly divided. While some journalists, activists, and human rights lawyers have condemned him as a war criminal, several scholars have ranked him as the most effective U.S. Secretary of State since 1965. Since holding office, his advice has been sought by world leaders including subsequent U.S. presidents.