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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.
What is history and why should we study it? Is there such a thing as historical truth? Is history a science? One of the most accomplished historians at work today, John Lewis Gaddis, answers these and other questions in this short, witty, and humane book. The Landscape of History provides a searching look at the historian's craft, as well as a strong argument for why a historical consciousness should matter to us today. Gaddis points out that while the historical method is more sophisticated than most historians realize, it doesn't require unintelligible prose to explain. Like cartographers mapping landscapes, historians represent what they can never replicate. In doing so, they combine the techniques of artists, geologists, paleontologists, and evolutionary biologists. Their approaches parallel, in intriguing ways, the new sciences of chaos, complexity, and criticality. They don't much resemble what happens in the social sciences, where the pursuit of independent variables functioning with static systems seems increasingly divorced from the world as we know it. So who's really being scientific and who isn't? This question too is one Gaddis explores, in ways that are certain to spark interdisciplinary controversy. Written in the tradition of Marc Bloch and E. H. Carr,The Landscape of History is at once an engaging introduction to the historical method for beginners, a powerful reaffirmation of it for practitioners, a startling challenge to social scientists, and an effective skewering of post-modernist claims that we can't know anything at all about the past. It will be essential reading for anyone who reads, writes, teaches, or cares about history.
Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of American National Security Policy During the Cold War (Revised and Expanded Edition)by John Lewis Gaddis
When Strategies of Containment was first published, the Soviet Union was still a superpower, Ronald Reagan was president of the United States, and the Berlin Wall was still standing. This updated edition of Gaddis' classic carries the history of containment through the end of the Cold War. Beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt's postwar plans, Gaddis provides a thorough critical analysis of George F. Kennan's original strategy of containment, NSC-68, The Eisenhower-Dulles "New Look," the Kennedy-Johnson "flexible response" strategy, the Nixon-Kissinger strategy of detente, and now a comprehensive assessment of how Reagan-- and Gorbachev-- completed the process of containment, thereby bringing the Cold War to an end. He concludes, provocatively, that Reagan more effectively than any other Cold War president drew upon the strengths of both approaches while avoiding their weaknesses. A must-read for anyone interested in Cold War history, grand strategy, and the origins of the post-Cold War world.
History of the period with emphasis on International activity.
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