Henry Kissinger was the most famous and controversial American diplomat of the 20th century. A Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, his intellectual skills and the development of the Cold War fueled his rise in postwar American society and academia, as he became a professor at Harvard University and achieved public notoriety one of the first “defense intellectuals.” After Richard Nixon assumed the Presidency, Kissinger was his closest adviser on foreign affairs, producing breakthroughs including the opening of American relations with China, détente with the Soviet Union, and an end to involvement in the Vietnam War. During Watergate Kissinger assumed all-but presidential powers, deeply engaging the United States in the politics of the Middle East. He dominated foreign affairs during the short presidency of Gerald Ford, and has remained a prominent figure in the foreign policy establishment to this day. Most previous treatments of Kissinger have highlighted his role as an intellectual who advocated a foreign policy of cold-blooded “realpolitik,” eschewing moral considerations or democratic ideology. However, I argue that to understand fully Henry Kissinger, it is important to see him as a political operator, less a strategic thinker than a politician, a man who understood that American foreign policy was inextricably linked to the partisan battles of American domestic politics. Kissinger was also the first true “celebrity diplomat,” a leader skilled in the manipulation of the media, especially television, relentlessly self-promoting, as he sought political power, for reasons of personal ambition, to enact his preferred policies, and to defend his perception of America’s national interest. Ultimately, Henry Kissinger both exercised and symbolized American power in international affairs, leaving a legacy that 21st century Americans need to understand.