What makes this book special is that it focusses more on the 'empty spaces' in history, rather than on the big historic events themselves. A good example is Kissinger's way of discussing the Korean war: After just having devoted an entire chapter how the big players placed their chesspieces in the run up to the war, he summerizes the entire conflict itself in just 5 lines, before continuing with the aftermath. This is a choice that the author has made and it happens throughout the book. If you want information on big Chinese events such as the Cultural Revolution or different wars; it might be better to pick a different book.
But if you are interested in the strategic thinking that took place behind the closed doors of what we believed was a bipolar world order, this book gives you insights like no other. Eventhough I followed classes on Chinese foreign policy at Beijing University, the book still offered plenty of surprises. And of course, there is no better person to write this than the great Henry Kissinger himself.
One thing I was most surprised about was the way Kissinger portrayed Mao. Whereas general Western conceptions portray (rightfully, if you consider the millions of casualties) this Mao era as one of the less successful in Chinese history, Kissinger seems to depict Mao more as a brilliant strategist (he does the same with Stalin too), who at times is just a bit overly optimistic or ambitious (such as during the great leap forward or the cultural revolution) But due to the fact that these moments of chaos receive so little attention, a skewed picture emerges