Henry Kissinger has distilled many words of wisdom from four millennia of Chinese civilization, and several centuries of Western diplomacy, including almost half a century of personal experience at the sharp end of power politics. He has captured headlines and captivated some of the world's best commentating minds with his 580-page book "On China."

Most reviews and comments have been favorable, though professor Andrew Nathan in the upcoming Foreign Affairs neatly dismisses the tome as "really neither history nor memoir. Its purpose is to argue that the United States should yield gracefully to China's rise in order to avoid a tragic conflict."

This month marks 40 years since Kissinger feigned sickness in Pakistan and made a secret flight to China to pave the way for President Richard Nixon's historic visit to the country the following year. For me, Kissinger's biggest failure is what he omits.