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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2009
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
When I ordered a copy of this book I was a bit worried that the author is a grandson of Paul Nitze. Hmmm.....was this going to be a bit of a whitewash, overpraising Nitze while trashing Kennan? Or conversely, was Mr. Thompson going to be overly sensitive to the potential criticism and would he bend-over-backwards to be fair to Kennan at the expense of Nitze? Not to worry.....this is a fascinating, well-researched book, evenhanded in its approach and conclusions. Both men are given praise when praise is due, and criticized when necessary. One of the best things about the book is that it helps you see both men, and the Cold War itself, in shades of grey rather than in black-and-white. Despite their reputations, both men had some of the hawk and some of the dove in them. They both wanted to avoid nuclear war, they just had different ideas on the best way to achieve that goal. Although Kennan saw the Russians as people-like-us, he was a bit of an idealist and would probably have given away the farm if he had been involved in nuclear arms reduction talks. He would have been perceived as weak, and so would the United States as well. Not a good scenario when engaging in tough negotiations. On the other hand, Nitze probably was a bit too cynical and tended to demonize the Russians. This made him an overly tough negotiator and probably resulted in escalated tensions between the two countries. Both men would have been better off if they had had a bit of the other man's personality as part of their own make-up. Another fascinating thing about this book are the historical gems the author has unearthed. For example, did you know that early in his first administration Richard Nixon sent nuclear-weapon-laden bombers on an exercise where they pretended they were going to enter Russian airspace? (It was an idea cooked up with the help of Henry Kissinger, and the purpose was to make the Russians think that Nixon was a bit crazy and capable of anything. That way, they might be more flexible at the negotiating table.)....We also have the spectacle of Leonid Brezhnev being asked to "push the button" during a Soviet exercise, to launch missiles that were only equipped with dummy warheads. Brezhnev was terrified, and kept hesitating and asking his subordinates, "Are you sure the warheads are not real?".....There are also glimpses into the personal lives of the men. Both men lived to a ripe-old-age and had long, happy marriages. But Kennan was prone to depression and self-doubt and had a tendency to drink too much and engage in womanizing. Nitze seemed to be happier, but he was a workaholic. (He also had some odd ideas about staying in shape. He felt that regular exercise was bad because it was boring. He recommended periods of inactivity followed by bursts of extreme exercise...such as playing 5 sets of tennis after a long layoff. Probably not what the doctor would order but, hey, it worked for him!)....This was easily one of the best books I've read this year and I highly recommend it.
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In reading history I'm often reminded of the preface to Wittgenstein's PHILOSOPHICAL INVESTIGATIONS. He wrote that his subject required him to approach the same issues from different directions, like one exploring a landscape from different approaches. Each approach reveals the subject in a new way and sheds new light on it. In the same way, the entire Cold War era is best understood by criss crossing it in a variety of ways. I also very much enjoy joint biographies. In fact, one of the best I have ever read also involved George Kennan, THE WISE MEN: SIX FRIENDS AND THE WORLD THEY MADE by Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas, a marvelous joint biography of Kennan, Robert Lovett, John McCloy, Averell Harriman, Charles Bohlen, and Dean Acheson. Paul Nietzsche also featured prominently in that one. (In fact, I very strongly recommend that book to anyone who enjoys this one.)

George Kennan and Paul Nitze were two of the most emblematic figures of the Cold War. By any measure their contributions to American government were enormous. Kennan is one of the most fascinating personalities from the last half of the 20th century. He is generally considered to have had a deeper understanding of the Soviet Union than any other individual and, as Nicholas Thompson so ably explains, anticipated many of the major developments in the last decades of the past century. He prophesied in the 1940s with uncanny accuracy the eventual fate of the Soviet Union, explaining both how and why the system would eventually implode and collapse. He was one of the major architects of the Marshall Plan, one of the greatest achievements in the history of American foreign policy. And he was the author of the famous Long Telegram, which evinced an understanding of the Soviet Union. His theory of containment dominated nearly all American policy during the Cold War, even if he complained that the ways that "containment" were construed varied from his own understanding. His insight into world affairs was unsurpassed by any other foreign policy expert of the century and he had no rival in articulating his understanding. Kennan was, by any standard, a great writer. At several points in the course of his public career Kennan was able to provide a way of viewing a group of issues so as to alter public comprehension. Yet, Kennan was also something of a crank. Though he was celebrated as a hero by the Left, he held a number of not merely conservative but reactionary view. He was personally extremely conservative, especially on cultural matters. He disliked men with long hair and didn't care for social change. I suspect he hated the Beatles. Many of his beliefs -- such as the desirability of the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain unifying under a capital to be located in Canada -- were downright weird. He was often a crank. He described himself as an 18th century man and certainly he had many of the oddities of a Gibbon (whom he loved) or Samuel Johnson. I find Kennan fascinating for being so brilliant at one moment and so bizarre the next.

Nitze, who is the grandfather of the author of the book (at no point did I sense that Thompson was being kinder to his grandfather or less fair to Kennan than he ought), is a far less interesting character than Kennan. He lacked Kennan's enormous prescience and insight, and while a competent writer was not touched by genius as was Kennan. One is struck, however, by Nitze's drive and dedication and his enormous practical abilities. Nitze's two greatest contributinos were on the one hand advocating the huge arms build up that occurred in the fifties and sixties and one the other hand his work on disarmament in the seventies and eighties. I find it fascinating that while Kennan was adored by the Left and Nitze by some on the Right, Kennan held many conservative beliefs and Nitze many liberal ones. The truth is that neither fit comfortably into simple characterizations of conservative or liberal. Frankly, I find both of them more interesting for being less than predictable.

The joint biography does a splendid job of recounting most of the central foreign policy crises that occurred during the period. You get a great sense of the various personalities involved, from James Forrestal to George Marshall to Dean Acheson to George Kissinger to George Schulz to all the presidents of those years, as well as the major leaders of other countries, in particular the Soviet Union.

The book also undercuts the current ahistorical claims about the role of Ronald Reagan in ending the Cold War. This is true of any actual historical accounts of the period. Reagan's greatest role in the Cold War was in his considerable accomplishments in arms control. This may, in fact, have been the great achievement of his presidency. The book demonstrated Reagan's extremely superficial understanding of the issues surrounding nuclear weapons (while Nitze liked Reagan, he considered him incompetent on nuclear issues and had nothing but utter disdain for his Star Wars initiative). As Thompson chronicles, the Soviet Union, as Kennan had predicted, was already suffering enormously from the strain of the arms race well before Reagan was president. In 1972 Brezhnev yearned for the completion of the SALT I agreement to help ease the great strain on the Soviet economy created by the arms race. The standard argument by Reagan's fans was that he caused an escalation in the arms race, but in fact the Soviets did not increase military spending during Reagan's presidency. The strain on their economy definitely preceded Reagan. And the reason that Reagan's fans hate Kennan so much is that his work as architect of the strategy for winning the Cold War lessens Reagan's role. Kennan's strategy of containment was embraced by every American president from Truman to Bush 41, with no exceptions, and it had precisely the effect Kennan predicted. He insisted that if we resisted the Soviet Union and limited its spread by his policy of containment (though his understanding was political containment, rather than the military containment that Nitze preferred), it would collapse upon itself, which is precisely what happened. Fans of Reagan, so desperate for political reasons to give him a legacy that he does not deserve (while refusing to grant him the legacy that he does deserve, as someone who worked hard for disarmament, with some success), don't like Kennan because he undercuts the script that they have concocted for him. They are not helped by the fact that virtually no historians outside of the United States (and even then virtually no historians who are not conservative Republicans) view Reagan as having played an especially role in bringing about the end of the Cold War. Unlike George Kennan, whom they do.

I learned a great deal from reading this book. I learned a lot about the motives behind Nitze's desire for arms reduction talks. I was especially interested to learn that one reason the arms race continued on the Soviet side was the great pressure placed on the government to build more weapons by Soviet arms manufacturers. We are all too familiar with the pressure placed on American policy by the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower condemned, but one rarely gets the impression that the same was true in the Soviet Union. But Thompson shows that sometimes rockets and warheads were built simply to provide jobs and to keep the military industry going. And the book was great for taking a slightly different approach on a host of political issues. I definitely recommend this for anyone interested in world history in the last half of the twentieth century. These two men were either directly involved in or commented insightfully on nearly every important issue during that period. But book is interesting for the light it sheds on two extremely interesting public servants. And in the case of Kennan I hope that it inspires people to read some of his books. The two volumes of his MEMOIRS contains some of the finest prose writing in English since WW II. Thompson quotes from a letter to Kennan from Stalin's daughter, who urges him to isolate himself from public life and do what she believes he was born to be: a great writer. Perhaps she was right. Perhaps by gaining one of our great diplomats and public intellectuals we lost one of our greatest novelists. But we have only the life he actually lived. This fine joint biography will provide an excellent intro into the lives and work of two remarkable public servants.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 7, 2009
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Nicholas Thompson's new book, The Hawk and the Dove, presents a riveting account of the intersecting lives of George Kennan and Paul Nitze. Thompson is Nitze's grandson, and had access to personal papers not previously available, and the Kennan family also gave him broad access to materials. I knew a lot about both individuals prior to reading The Hawk and the Dove, and was never bored when I read what I already knew, and I enjoyed reading about many things I had not known. Kennan's containment strategy in relation to the Soviet Union provided the intellectual basis for America's approach to the Cold War. Nitze took Kennan's ideas and militarized them. Kennan was the outsider and Nitze the bureaucrat; Kennan the Dove and Nitze the Hawk. With great sensitivity and balance, Thompson concludes that at various times, both Kennan and Nitze were right. These men were giants of their time, and this account of their lives will enlighten those readers with any interest in world affairs.

Rating: Three-star (Recommended)
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I picked up this book because, like the author (Nitze's grandson), I too have a small, if minor, connection to Paul H. Nitze - I attended the graduate school in international affairs he established (the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies). I read the book in part out of curiosity about my school's founder, and also to learn more about the George Kennan, a man whom I had always associated with the word containment. While I am pretty familiar with World War II and Cold War history, I had never studied the careers of either of these two men.

I am glad my introduction to their lives as through Nicholas Thompson's The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War. Thompson has hit upon a great idea of writing a joint biography of Kennan and Nitze. Since both had such long public careers, this book provides a great exploration of how the foreign policy establishment works. Unlike single-subject biographies, it does not chronicle the remarkable life of one man, but rather shows two very different career paths - Kennan the intellectual and Nitze the insider. The contrast demonstrates much more about the successes and failures of foreign policy establishment than most memoirs and the penultimate dilemma in foreign policy - marrying intellectual insight with bureaucratic competence. I have noticed this very frequently even in my own dealings at SAIS - experts in certain countries disagreeing with international relations theorists, etc. For example, Nitze comes across as an insider able to master the details of weapons systems, but with little understanding of the USSR or history. By contrast Kennan understood the fears and goals of the Soviet leadership (even correctly predicting how the USSR would collapse), but had little sense of how to influence the bureaucracy or win government appointments. Had Nitze had Kennan's insights into the USSR, he probably would have advocated radically different policies. Had Kennan been able to work the bureaucracy and key politicians like Nitze, Kennan's policies might have held more sway during the Cold War. Unfortunately, very few individuals combine the strengths of both men, and it is only through joint biographies such as The Hawk and the Dove that we can really appreciate each set of skills and how the successful foreign policy wonk needs both.

Unlike a memoir, this book emphasizes their failures as well as successes. Both men sought, but never achieved, the highest positions in foreign policy circles - Nitze because he annoyed superiors, Kennan because he never lobbied them. Both were wrong on certain key issues (and admirably, Thompson does not spare his grandfather Nitze from criticism). For example, Nitze believed the Soviet leadership increased its weapons systems because it was less concerned about nuclear war (in fact, many systems were purchased to satisfy the Soviet arms industry, and Brezhnev was deathly afraid of nuclear war). Kennan was probably more often correct on the big foreign policy issues, but did not understand the American people or politics. At times, he privately advocated benevolent dictatorship and limited segregation. He also suffered from bouts of depression, which limited his ability to persevere in government. Ultimately - and refreshingly - Thompson's The Hawk and the Dove is not the story of unalloyed success, but rather a more complete and realistic picture of life in the foreign policy establishment.

Finally, if you haven't yet become familiar with Cold War history, The Hawk and the Dove is not a bad place to start. Since the career of these two public servants spanned the end of World War II and the entire Cold War, the book touches upon most of the key debates in U.S. foreign policy since the end of World War II. It explains the viewpoints of both Kennan and Nitze (often representing opposite ends of the political spectrum) and the rationales for each policy. It provides enough background for uninitiated readers, but the discussion is sophisticated enough not to bore people like myself with an MA in international affairs.

I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this book. I really appreciate its honest depictions of these two men. As an aspiring expert in international relations, I prefer to read about real men like Kennan and Nitze whose lives I could try to emulate, rather than larger-than-life icons like Kissinger. Hopefully, you'll also be able to relate to and respect these two legends after reading The Hawk and the Dove.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2009
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a skilled piece of writing and the book has many merits, which other Vine reviewers have covered insightfully and thoroughly. I'm a little on the fence about it and add not so much dissents as caveats. Yes, it's done well and it is an excellent biography built around the two brilliant figures whose lives were so intertwined: the idealist and the pragmatist, sometimes collaborators and increasingly in conflict, with both of them at the center of US foreign policy for half a century.

The book has the strength of its limitations; it is biography, not history. It presents history as seen and experienced by Kennan and Nitze. It conveys their personalities, roles, judgments and impacts on the complex and world-threatening era we call the Cold War. The author does this with a clear narrative thread and communicates the person without psychodrama and hagiography. Sensibly, this narrative addresses the history as his dualistic pair saw and experienced it. Accordingly, it omits many aspects of the context of that experience. The Cuban Bay of Pigs gets just a paragraph or so. Many background events and leading figures are left out of the story or treated cursorily. Examples are the role of Adeneuer, "Der Alte", in so many ways central to the rehabilitation of German society and economics, the Suez Canal debacle of 1956, the Nuclear Disarmament campaigns that solidified the left across Europe, and the often bizarre policies of Foster Dulles in insisting a nation was either for us or against us and India's role in leading the nonaligned movement.

I often had a sense of tasting an excellent hors d'oeuvre but wanting a full dish. This limitation in focusing history on the individuals is a strength, however, in that it provides clarity and avoids a sprawling 1,800 or so scholarly tome. But it really isn't a history of the Cold War; it's a story of how two of the best and the brightest struggled to make the right decisions as they saw them in handling the Age of the Nuclear Threat - that's its real topic.

One of the aspects of the book that I found striking is that it is so respectful. It doesn't demonize even people like Curtis Le May, famous for the wish to bomb Vietnam "back into the Stone Age." It is perhaps too nice to General McArthur, whose ego seemed the size of the Pentagon but his blunder to accomplishments ratio even bigger. But the liberality of spirit in the observations gives the work a sense of weight and reflectivity. It addresses the torments and borderline compulsive obsession of Kennan and the ability of Nitze to alienate just about anyone in his milieu as part of who they were, and running through everything in the book is a sense of honorable men doing the best they could.

It is not a vivid book, though well-crafted and lucid in its style. I wish there had been more variety in pacing and a little more color. It is well-documented and uses its sources responsibly. So, all in all, I recommend it, with the proviso that it is a biography of two figures who braved the whirlwinds of a dangerous era in history but it is not the history of that era.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2009
This review was motivated partially by my conversations with Dr. R.H. I hope he finds it useful. The views and any errors are all mine.

The Hawk and the Dove, by Nicholas Thompson, is a dual biography of two of America's leading strategists of the Cold War, George Kennan and Paul Nitze, both of whom I have admired for many years.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book but learned very little from it. This seemingly contradictory comment is based on the following pros and cons.

Pros:

* The book is very well written. Thompson is editor of Wired magazine which has clearly honed his writing skills.
* Thompson is also the grandson of Paul Nitze, one of the subjects of the dual biography. This family connection has obviously stimulated his interest in researching his subject.
* Thompson has toed a very even line, providing a highly objective history of his grandfather's career.
* Thompson's book provides a condensed version of Kennan's two volume
Memoirs, that are, sadly, out of print. He thereby makes this classic more readily available to the current-day reader.

Cons:

* The Hawk and the Dove draws very heavily on Kennan's two volume Memoirs and does not add much to the historical record for anyone who has read them. Although out of print, they are readily available through Amazom's used book network. See my reviews (which are more substantive in style than this one).
* Thompson's style at times diverges from that of a serious historian. I'll cite two examples. First, the title, The Hawk and the Dove, greatly exagerates and simplifies the differences between the two men. I'll expand on this comment below. In fairness, this title may have been imposed on the author by his publisher as a strategy to increase sales. Second, Thompson includes several items that I can only characterize as unproven innuendo without historical significance: Did Kennan have an affair with a fellow internee while under German internment during WWII? Was Admiral Elmo Zumwalt's daughter trailed on the orders of some high government official? After William Sullivan of the FBI declared that one would "probably read about his death as some kind of accident but not to believe it. It would be murder", he was killed in a "hunting accident". Thompson does not substantiate any of these allegations.

Reviewer's Comments

* Kennan (the Dove) formulated the US policy of Containment which was the basis of US policy toward the Soviet Union for half a century. He advocated that the US enter the Korean War as the primary belligerent rather than as a contributor to a force sponsored by the UN. Over the years, his description of Containment morphed from (perhaps) equal parts of military and non-military pressure on the Soviets to one based primarily on non-military means. Nonetheless, he never lost sight of his original goal of containing Soviet expansion and never regarded the Soviet Union as anything other than an enemy. Not your typical "dove".
* Nitze (the Hawk) was an early opponent of the Vietnam War. His attempts to reach an arms control agreement with the Soviets during the Reagan administration were initially rejected by that administration. Not your typical "hawk".
* Rather than the Hawk and the Dove, I prefer to think of them as the Insider and the Outsider. Nitze (the Insider) served in every administration from Roosevelt through Reagan, except for Carter's. Nitze saw himself as more effective in influencing US policy as a member of government than as an outsider. And, he was.
* Kennan (the Outsider) insisted, under every administration, on being his own man, even at the expense of his diplomatic career. He had a penchant for resigning, threatening to resign, or placing himself in situations where resignation might be the only honorable path. This isn't to say he wasn't justified in many of these actions. He just saw himself as more effective in influencing US policy if he was unencumbered by being forced to support the current administration's policies when he disagreed with them. And, he was.
* Kennan and Nitze were both patriotic Americans. Both were dedicated to the same goals: (1) Defending the West from the Soviet menace and (2) Defeating communism at the least cost to the West. Their differences were about tactics and strategies, not about goals. I wish we had two such strategists guiding US policies today.

Recommendations for those interested in reading more about the history of the Cold War:
* Strategies of Containment by John Lewis Gaddis is the best overall history of the evolution and ultimate success of containment.
* Kennan's two volume Memoirs covers most of the substantive content of The Hawk and the Dove in more depth and in an elegant style.
* If you still want more after reading the above, scan through my Amazon book reviews. About half of them deal with diplomacy and history.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 18, 2009
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Countless books have been written about the geopolitical and strategic thinking of the Cold War era and two of its chief architects, Paul Nitze and George Kennan. Both Nitze and Kennan were prolific authors on the subject and left behind voluminous writings for future researchers to pore over, but few authors have explored their friendship, especially when both held such diametrically opposed opinions on International Relations. "Hawk and the Dove" is potentially complicated a bit more by the fact its author is the grandson of Paul Nitze; something that could easily call into question his objectivity. But "Hawk and Dove" isn't intended as anything more than a character study of the two men. It isn't a critical analysis of the policies they advocated, although that certainly does come up, but its more of a study of how these two powerful figures who held radically different beliefs could remain close friends. And in an age where bipartisanship seems dead and buried there's a great message here: its fine to attack someone's beliefs but don't make it personal. Both Nitze and Kennan avoided ad hominen attacks on each other, as well as on other critics as the objectives were the protection of the US and the West against Communist aggression.

"Hawk and Dove" recaptures the highs and lows for both Nitze and Kennan and their respective approaches to the Communist threats. Other reviewers have mentions the relationship of Nitze and Kennan as being akin to Jefferson and Adams and the comparison is quite appropriate. Rather than the chilly clash of idealism "Hawk and Dove" is permeated with warmth and a genuine appreciation for how the two remained friends despite their differences. Thompson is uniquely situated to provide new insights into the character of both men and hardly pulls any punches in his depiction of his grandfather, quickly pointing out the shortcomings of both men. What results is a very nuanced and insightful portrayal of both men and their respective ideologies that greatly enriches our understanding of them. Usually comparative biographies are fraught with the potential for disastrous results but that is not the case here. On the contrary, "Hawk and the Dove" is eminently readable and enjoyable for scholars of either man or of the Cold War. Indeed it is so well written its appeal is likely beyond the scholarly community and has broader appeal to the general public. In an era where bipartisanship seems to be dead "Hawk and the Dove" gives hope for how divides can be bridged.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 31, 2009
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Ostensibly a dual biography, this book really is something of a primer on US Cold War deterrence and strategic nuclear policy especially vis a vis the Soviet Union, from the beginning of the Cold War through the fall of Gorbachev. As such, it is a sweeping and informative history touching on grand strategy, and going into a little detail on arms control policy.

Kennan was an odd sort of duck, highly intelligent, lonely, often feeling touchy or spurned or ill-used, who moved from the famous Long Telegram and X article in Foreign Affairs, where he came across as what at that time would have been something of a hawk, to become an advocate of a far more dovish policy towards the Soviets, pushing for a diplomatic engagement rather than a military one. He lived to be 101 years old, long enough to consider his point of view vindicated. Less well known today are his less popular ideas - without question he was something of an authoritarian, feeling democracy as a government model an inefficient way to fight the world struggle; his writings leave a trail of anti-Semitism and racism at times. Kennan increasingly found himself to be out of a government job, though called upon from time to time by various administrations and the press as an expert until his death.

Nitze was different temperamentally as well as politically. Beginning from his experiences in studying the WWII strategic bombing campaigns against Nazi Germany and then Japan, including the results of the US use of nuclear weapons, he become likely the most well-informed (not to say opinionated) government non-scientist official regarding nuclear strategy, policy, and subsequently arms control detail. While generally speaking considered to be an ultra-hawk, there are instances of compromise or reasoned anti-war opinion (particularly regarding Vietnam). His impact on policy from a governmental position was far larger and apparently more influential than that of Kennan; he remained involved in the SALT and START talks right up until the collapse of the Soviet Union, by which time he was in his 80s, and when he died at 97, he also could consider himself and his opinions on how to handle the Cold War vindicated.

Along the way we see how presidents and administrations may come and go, but there is a bureaucratic and policy-making crust that stays on for decades. We see traces of people like Rumsfeld, Ellsberg, Acheson, Rusk, Byrd, Zumwalt, Kissinger, Wolfowitz and Luttwak from way before anyone outside of government had heard of them - and of course many of them still have a hand in policy today, decades later.

The book is well written, chronologically arranged, and not especially detailed. While it does deal in detail with the career arcs of both Kennan and Nitze, it functions as a simple tour of the deterrence debate throughout the Cold War, and as such makes for interesting reading at a time where so many people and voters have already forgotten this most dangerous time.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This masterful book by Nicholas Thompson provides a window into the lives and thoughts of two men whose thinking shaped the course of the Cold War.

In the beginning of the book, Kennan is a diplomat in Moscow in the final days of WWII. He writes the "Long Telegram" which warns of the USSR's fundamental need to undermine the United States. The telegram establishes his fame as a preeminent thinker and ultimately earns him a position leading the State Department's Policy Planning Staff (a strategic think tank within the department).

Kennan began to work with Nitze, whose initial background was on Wall Street, on the Policy Planning Staff. Thus began more than five decades of mutual admiration and bitter rivalry as both rose to high profile careers as cold war prophets on the subjects of nuclear arms and Soviet intentions. Kennan, who abhorred the arms race, is the "dove," Nitze the "hawk."

Thompson, who is Nitze's grandson, doesn't do his "Gramps" any particular favors in his treatment and points out his relative's shortcomings often -- in particular Nitze's consistent overestimation of Soiet ill-will and guile. He portrays Kennan as brilliant and poetic, yet aloof and brooding. Yet the book is founded upon utmost respect for both men.

The two characters come to life, interwoven with fascinating anecdotes from the Cold War (particularly those relating to Nitze's big chance to broker an arms deal between Reagan and Gorbachev.) This book is a remarkable portrait of two key figures in a secretive era.

Highly Recommended (A+) and the best book I've ever received as a member of Amazon Vine. I intend to buy official copies as gifts.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Despite being a political science major and a history buff, the cold war is one part of history that I had never studied intensely. I was very surprised to hear how much this book had been praised when I barely knew anything about the two main characters to begin with. Also, I had severe reservations about the accuracy of the portrayal since the author was related to only one of the subjects.

All of my worries and concerns were easily put to rest within 10-20 pages. This book was a fascinating look into two extraordinary lives that essentially held the power during the cold war that most people attribute to the different presidents of their time. It was incredible how much one can learn by reading a book like this, and I nearly skipped meals to finish this story in one sitting.

If you are a history buff and do not know much about the cold war, this is a must read. If you are a history buff and think you know a lot about the cold war, this book will still be very educating. Please enjoy this book, and share the fun facts with your friends who think they know everything there is to know about this era in history...I guarantee you, you will surprise them with your newfound knowledge...
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