Customer Reviews


8 Reviews
5 star:
 (3)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A misleading title covers a gem
The original title of this book, American Diplomacy 1900-1950, is misleading. It implies that this is a study of American diplomacy between the two dates. Wrong. The book is split into two parts.
The first part is based on a series of lectures given by Kennan. Each talk looks at a specific event (Spanish American War, WWI or WWII) and draws a general lesson from...
Published on April 14, 2004 by Donald Padou

versus
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Eloquent but Slight
The lectures reprinted in this book were delivered in 1951 by George Kennan, the legendary American diplomat who authored the "containment" doctrine that guided U.S. relations with the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War. Each lecture analyzes a key episode or turning point in American foreign policy between 1898 and the onset of the Cold War.
The...
Published on July 2, 2004


Most Helpful First | Newest First

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A misleading title covers a gem, April 14, 2004
By 
Donald Padou (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: American Diplomacy (Walgreen Foundation Lectures) (Paperback)
The original title of this book, American Diplomacy 1900-1950, is misleading. It implies that this is a study of American diplomacy between the two dates. Wrong. The book is split into two parts.
The first part is based on a series of lectures given by Kennan. Each talk looks at a specific event (Spanish American War, WWI or WWII) and draws a general lesson from that event that can be applied to other times and places.
For example, the lesson (well, one of them) Kennan draws from his lecture on the Spanish-American War and the US grab for empire is that the US often does not adequately consider the consequences of its actions. In particular, we do not consider what to do after the fighting stops. Hmm, does that sound familiar?
The second part is a reprint of two famous Kennan articles. The first is the Mr. X article laying out the theory of containment. The second speculates about the nature of a Russia that has gone through the changes hypothesized in the first piece.
These two pieces might seem dated, but there are some points that are still vary valid. For example, Kennan stress that US must be on the side of the angels. He thinks that the USSR's fall is inevitable. He wants the Russian people to think well of the US when that event happens. The first article (and the "long telegram" on which it was based) provides a great model for any analysis of an enemy state and the proper way to think about US policy
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Eloquent but Slight, July 2, 2004
By A Customer
The lectures reprinted in this book were delivered in 1951 by George Kennan, the legendary American diplomat who authored the "containment" doctrine that guided U.S. relations with the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War. Each lecture analyzes a key episode or turning point in American foreign policy between 1898 and the onset of the Cold War.
The lectures stand up pretty well after half-a-century. Kennan's main point is that the American aversion to diplomatic realism leads to an infantalized domestic debate on foreign policy issues and limits our ability to pursue balance of power strategies. Kennan wrote eloquently and knew what he was talking about -- the ease with which the Bush Administration gulled the American public into supporting the invasion of Iraq is a timely reminder of the need for better public education on foreign policy.
Kennan had a distinguished career as an historian after he left the State Department. However, the reader looking for diplomatic history should know that these lectures are short quasi-philosophical ruminations on the goals and methods of foreign policy in a democracy. They are not detailed reconstructions of diplomatic episodes or negotiations.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting Perspectives, April 28, 2000
By 
James Schoonmaker (Centreville, Virginia USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: American Diplomacy (Walgreen Foundation Lectures) (Paperback)
This book is a collection of speeches by George F. Kennan made during the Cold War. For those unfamiliar with the author, he is the author of the famous "X" article, The Sources of Soviet Conduct, which served as the intellectual foundation of the Containment Doctrine.
Although dated, especially since the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, this short book provides a useful look not only at the ideas of one of our most eminent Cold War thinkers, but also of the atmosphere and conditions of the period.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lessons from American Diplomatic History in the 20th Century, March 23, 2008
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: American Diplomacy (Walgreen Foundation Lectures) (Paperback)
American Diplomacy, by George F. Kennan, consists of two sets of lectures that Kennan gave in the 1950s plus two articles he wrote for Foreign Affairs. The lectures present lessons Kennan derived from his studies and/or personnel experience in selected episodes of US diplomatic history from the Spanish-American War through the Cold War. Some of the most interesting observations from his lectures include the following.

* Any system of world law is inherently based on some set of moral principles, stated or not, which make transgressors into moral outcasts. Enforcement of world law then becomes a moral crusade, frequently resulting in a war that lasts to the bitter end.
* Diplomacy needs to rely on a case-by-case consideration of each situation and search for the best resolution to each conflict.
* Prior to WWI, wars were more limited in objectives. Total war probably eliminates the possibility of total victory, save by the annihilation of the enemy. Diplomacy based on national self-interest works better because it doesn't create moral crusades, thereby allowing negotiation, compromise, and the termination of conflicts on terms short of total victory for either side.
* Truth and reason are poor competitors when confronted with moral certitude. WWI was a transition from truth and reason to moral certitude and hatred on both sides, and these seeds grew into WWII and the Cold War.
* Once war has been entered, democracies tend to fight to the bitter end, demanding unconditional surrender, to teach the adversary an unforgettable lesson. This was demonstrated in both world wars. As long as Hitler led Nazi Germany, there may not have been a feasible alternative to unconditional surrender. However, publically announcing unconditional surrender as our non-negotiable war aim probably undermined any possibility of Hitler's removal by more rational elements of the German army.
* How do individual ethics differ from national or collective ethics? The individual has far more freedom since only he is impacted by his choices.
* Diplomacy based on a concept of world law will fail because such a structure is inherently too rigid, ignores interactions of domestic and international affairs, assumes that all nations are equally legitimate, and relies on collective military action for enforcement, ignoring the centrifugal nature of coalitions. It also ignores the problem of large, powerful states' unwillingness to abide by the legal system.

Kennan's two papers from Foreign Affairs are equally interesting.

* "The Sources of Soviet Conduct" (1947) is the public version the Kennan's famous "Long Telegram" sent from the US Embassy in Moscow in 1946. In it, Kennan laid the foundations for the policy of containment which served as the basis for US policy toward the Soviet Union for the next 40 years. In Kennan's mind, containment was primarily a political and economic, rather than military, policy. His views led to the Marshall Plan to rebuild Western Europe, thereby reducing the appeal of communism to Europeans.
* "America and the Russian Future" (1951) is less well known that the first article. However, it is particularly interesting for its prescience in forecasting, 40 years in advance, essentially how the Soviet Union would either reform or self-destruct. Kennan maintained that a new generation of leaders would be necessary to reform the Soviet Union, leaders who would be able to recognize that the contradictions inherent in Soviet communism were drastically limiting Russia's economic potential and who would be willing to cooperate with the West in ending the Cold War.

American Diplomacy is delightful reading due to Kennan's eloquent and conversational style. The reader who wants to dig more deeply into the history of the Cold War might also want to consider the first volume of Kennan's Memoirs and Strategies of Containment by John Lewis Gaddis which traces the evolution of Kennan's strategy of containment from 1946 through the end of the Cold War.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still very relevant, May 16, 2007
This review is from: American Diplomacy (Walgreen Foundation Lectures) (Paperback)
I read this book as a text book for a class in American Foreign Policy that I took and I was surprized to find that it was still relevant to today's issues.

Kennan's premise that our foreign policy is based on idealism rather than realism is still true. Some of the past incidents he covers parallel some of the same attitudes we have today in expecting foreign nations to act like we do.

Our naive idea that Iraq could be turned into a western style democracy is addressed in the historical episodes described by Kennan. The use of the media in the Spanish American war parallels our present experience.

We seem to base our foreign policy on our perceptions of the world as we think it is rather than a realistic evaluation of what is really going on.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Reader on American Diplomacy, February 4, 2014
By 
B. Sherman (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: American Diplomacy (Walgreen Foundation Lectures) (Paperback)
Overall, this book is a good way of getting into the minds of one of the greatest lecturers that Political Science knows and his views on foreign policy. No, it is not an all-encompassing anthology with a myriad of different viewpoints, rather this offers a keen insight into one of these streams by one of its leaders.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American Diplomacy, November 4, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: American Diplomacy (Walgreen Foundation Lectures) (Paperback)
I am very happy about my purchase. The product arrived in excellent condition and arrived in a timely manner.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 63 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars American Diplomacy, A Croak of Slander, April 7, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: American Diplomacy (Walgreen Foundation Lectures) (Paperback)
Reading the book titled American Diplomacy, will be summed up in the following five pages. This was the first book that I have read by George F. Kennan. Looking at the beginning of this book, I can see that it is very well organized in a manner that you can follow the book along well. I am going to describe the following chapters in the following paragraphs. In the Forward, Kennan gives a good reason for why he wrote this book. Which also this is what I believe is the only part of the whole book that is easy to understand. Kennan explains the Thesis of this book the best in the forward. I believe that it would be easier to understand Kennan giving his lecture notes about what he put in this book, then by reading the book. Therefore, he could emphasis what he means in the book better by explaining it easier in person. He acknowledges his thanks to Charles R. Walgreen's Foundation for the Study of American Institutions, for its help on providing his lecture information. Kennan knows what is going on in this country when he states the opinion, "A half century ago people in this country had a sense of security vis-à-vis their world environment such as I suppose no people had ever had since the days of the Roman Empire. Today that pattern is almost reversed -our national consciousness is dominated at present by a sense of insecurity greater even then that of many of the peoples of western Europe who stand closer to, and in a position far more vulnerable to, those things that are the main source of our concern." I do agree with him on how he says that we are more insecure. We did show other countries in the earlier years, that we were the biggest and best country around, and then when countries need us in the 1950's, we show that we are insecure to the other countries. To summarize this chapter on "Mr. Hippisley And The Open Door" I would have to say that it was a lot easier to understand it then the first chapter of this book. The only thing that Kennan tended to do, which I did not like is get off the subject of what he was talking about and moved on the next subject. He just did not have much to say about this particular topic, so I believe that is why he threw in those extra things about the people of who the "Open Door" policy had effected. In edition, I have noticed how Kennan likes to go and use these very hard words to describe thing, and I mean that these are the types of words that you have trouble pronouncing and knowing the definition of. To summarize the whole book I would have to say that it was not an enjoying time of reading this. I struggled through many of the pages and had to re-read many things over again that I did not understand the first time I reading it. He goes through this book exactly how he produced his lectures to people, which it would be a lot easier to understand if he was lecturing this to me in person, instead of reading the book. Starting out in the beginning by telling all the wrong things that American's have done in the past, he finishes up the book, with the final chapter by saying that we have done things that we have done right. This totally changes the book, from starting out by protesting against things we have done, to agreeing to things that we have done. On a scale of one being the lowest and ten being the highest, I would have to give this book a six. This was appropriate for a class like this, but not for a Graduate class. I still would not recommend this book to no one.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First
ARRAY(0xa35b1780)

This product

American Diplomacy (Walgreen Foundation Lectures)
American Diplomacy (Walgreen Foundation Lectures) by George F. Kennan (Paperback - March 15, 1985)
Used & New from: $0.01
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.