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George F. Kennan
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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award Selected by The New York Times Book Review as a Notable Book of the Year Drawing on extensive interviews with George Kennan and exclusive access to his archives, an eminent scholar of the Cold War delivers a revelatory biography of its troubled mastermind. In the late 1940s, George Kennan wrote two documents, the "Long Telegram" and the "X Article," which set forward the strategy of containment that would define U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union for the next four decades. This achievement alone would qualify him as the most influential American diplomat of the Cold War era. But he was also an architect of the Marshall Plan, a prizewinning historian, and would become one of the most outspoken critics of American diplomacy, politics, and culture during the last half of the twentieth century. Now the full scope of Kennan's long life and vast influence is revealed by one of today's most important Cold War scholars.Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis began this magisterial history almost thirty years ago, interviewing Kennan frequently and gaining complete access to his voluminous diaries and other personal papers. So frank and detailed were these materials that Kennan and Gaddis agreed that the book would not appear until after Kennan's death. It was well worth the wait: the journals give this book a breathtaking candor and intimacy that match its century-long sweep.We see Kennan's insecurity as a Midwesterner among elites at Princeton, his budding dissatisfaction with authority and the status quo, his struggles with depression, his gift for satire, and his sharp insights on the policies and people he encountered. Kennan turned these sharp analytical gifts upon himself, even to the point of regularly recording dreams. The result is a remarkably revealing view of how this greatest of Cold War strategists came to doubt his strategy and always doubted himself.This is a landmark work of history and biography that reveals the vast influence and rich inner landscape of a life that both mirrored and shaped the century it spanned.
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About the Author

John Lewis Gaddis (born 1941 in Cotulla, Texas, U.S.) is a noted historian of the Cold War and grand strategy, who has been hailed as the "Dean of Cold War Historians" by the New York Times. Cold War (Allen Lane, 2006) was Waterstone's Book of the Month. He is the Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History at Yale University.

Reviews

We can be grateful to John Lewis Gaddis for bringing Kennan back to us, thoughtful, human, self-centred, contradictory, inspirational - a permanent spur as consciences are wont to be. Masterfully researched, exhaustively documented, Gaddis's moving work gives us a figure with whom, however one might differ on details, it was a privilege to be a contemporary. -- Henry A. Kissinger * New York Times Book Review * Kennan's life maps right onto twentieth-century political history, and no one is better qualified than Gaddis to lead the way through it ... Gaddis has written with care and elegance, and he has produced a biography whose fineness is worthy of its subject. -- Louis Menand * New Yorker * Well worth the wait. George F. Kennan: An American Life works brilliantly as a piece of intellectual history, and as a biography of a fascinating and complex man. Fortunately, both Gaddis and Kennan write beautifully. -- Gideon Rachman * Financial Times *

Prolific author and New York Times-heralded "Dean of Cold War Historians," Gaddis presents a massive and magnificent biography of George Frost Kennan (1904-2005). A Times obit described Kennan as "the American diplomat who did more than any other envoy of his generation to shape U.S. policy during the cold war." Drawing on unprecedented access to Kennan's personal papers and diaries as well as numerous interviews with the subject, his family members, and many influential diplomats and government officials, Gaddis reveals how Kennan's work continues to influence American foreign policy. This exhaustive analysis weaves details of the subject's life with his numerous high-level relationships with world leaders and reminds listeners of the dilemmas and aspirations our nation faced during this period. VERDICT Professional narrator Malcolm Hillgartner's lively, personable reading of this huge work is impressive as he maintains listener interest in this important addition to our understanding of American foreign policy during the Cold War. Highly recommended for all university libraries and government wonks. ["Highly recommended for Cold War scholars and for all library collections, alongside Nicholas Thompson's more personal The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War," read the review of the Penguin Group (USA) hc, LJ 9/15/11.-Ed.]-Dale Farris, Groves, TX (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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