The 99-year-old statesman views the leadership challenge through the lens of six heads of state he knew best: Konrad Adenauer, Charles de Gaulle, Richard Nixon, Anwar Sadat, Lee Kuan Yew, and Margaret Thatcher.
While they were all very different, Kissinger emphasizes that they shared a few key features: directness, vision, the ability to act boldly, understanding the importance of solitude, and, surprisingly, divisiveness.
The shift from aristocracy to meritocracy in governance allowed these six leaders, with their considerable skills, to help shape post-World War II history.
Kissinger concludes his book with provocative questions about a “faltering meritocracy,” which is being eroded by new technologies such as social networks and artificial intelligence.
This trend makes it particularly difficult to find candidates to fill the worrisome leadership void at a time when this troubled world made it most.