George F. Kennan: An American Life

George F. Kennan: An American Life

by John Lewis Gaddis


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Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Biography

Widely and enthusiastically acclaimed, this is the authorized, definitive biography of one of the most fascinating but troubled figures of the twentieth century by the nation's leading Cold War historian. In the late 1940s, George F. Kennan—then a bright but, relatively obscure American diplomat—wrote the "long telegram" and the "X" article. These two documents laid out United States' strategy for "containing" the Soviet Union—a strategy which Kennan himself questioned in later years. Based on exclusive access to Kennan and his archives, this landmark history illuminates a life that both mirrored and shaped the century it spanned.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143122159
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/28/2012
Pages: 800
Sales rank: 387,210
Product dimensions: 8.20(w) x 5.50(h) x 1.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

John Lewis Gaddis is the Robert A. Lovett Professor of History at Yale University. His previous books include The United States and the Origins of the Cold War; Strategies of Containment; The Long Peace; We Now Know; The Landscape of History; Surprise, Security, and the American Experience; and The Cold War: A New History. Professor Gaddis teaches courses on Cold War history, grand strategy, international studies, and biography; has won two Yale undergraduate teaching awards; was a 2005 recipient of the National Humanities Medal; and is the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Biography for George F. Kennan.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Part I

1 Childhood: 1904-1921 3

2 Princeton: 1921-1925 23

3 The Foreign Service: 1925-1931 39

4 Marriage-and Moscow: 1931-1933 60

Part II

5 The Origins of Soviet-American Relations: 1933-1936 79

6 Rediscovering America: 1936-1938 99

7 Czechoslovakia and Germany: 1938-1941 120

8 The United States at War: 1941-1944 147

9 Back in the U.S.S.R.: 1944-1945 172

10 A Very Long Telegram: 1945-1946 201

Part III

11 A Grand Strategic Education: 1946 225

12 Mr. X: 1947 249

13 Policy Planner: 1947-1948 276

14 Policy Dissenter: 1948 309

15 Reprieve: 1949 337

16 Disengagement: 1950 371

Part IV

17 Public Figure, Private Doubts: 1950-1951 407

18 Mr. Ambassador: 1952 439

19 Finding a Niche: 1953-1955 477

20 A Rare Possibility of Usefulness: 1955-1958 506

21 Kennedy and Yugoslavia: 1958-1963 538

Part V

22 Counter-Cultural Critic: 1963-1968 577

23 Prophet of the Apocalypse: 1968-1980 613

24 A Precarious Vindication: 1980-1990 647

25 Last Things: 1991-2005 676

Epilogue: Greatness 693

Acknowledgments 699

Abbreviations to Notes and Bibliography 701

Notes 703

Bibliography 751

Index 763

What People are Saying About This

Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft

"George Kennan was the great architect of the Cold War strategy of containment, but in later years he became one of its most vociferous critics. John Lewis Gaddis, perhaps the Cold War's greatest living historian, explains this remarkable journey in fascinating detail, reckoning brilliantly with the life and meaning of one of the great thinkers and characters of our age and, indeed , of the history of American diplomacy. For all who struggle to achieve some larger perspective on world events, the example of George Kennan, in John Lewis Gaddis's hands, makes for inspiring and engrossing reading." --(Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, USAF (Ret.); former National Security Advisor; and President of The Scowcroft Group)

George P. Shultz

"When a great historian writes about a great man, the result is bound to be outstanding. This book exceeds even that high expectation." --(George P. Shultz, author of Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State; former U.S. Secretary of State; Distinguished Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University)

Walter Isaacson

"In this magisterial and authorized work, based on complete access to private diaries and papers, Professor Gaddis gives us a deeply personal look at George Kennan and shows how his personality, philosophy and policy ideas wove together. The result is the definitive biography of one of the most influential and fascinating foreign policy thinkers of the 20th century—a triumph of both scholarship and narrative writing."--( Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein and Benjamin Franklin; President and CEO of The Aspen Institute)

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