From Publishers Weekly
Late in 1952, John Lukacs, a young, then-unknown American historian who would become a respected professor and self-proclaimed reactionary, sent George Kennan, then U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, his own writings on Kennan's widely-debated argument of containment over confrontation when it came to the USSR. Lukacs asked for the ambassador's opinion, Kennan responded, and the two became lifelong pen pals. Lukacs, with permission from Kennan's children, has compiled over 200 of their letters, capturing two important voices on U.S. involvement in world affairs, from the division of Europe after World War II to its unification as the Soviet Union collapsed, and from Vietnam and the threat of nuclear annihilation to NATO's expansion into Eastern Europe. Both men favored eloquent, often abstruse language, making for heavy reading, and some letters, such as a correspondence in which they critique each other's writings, lack context (the original letters were left out), though Lukacs provides commentary throughout. Divided into five chronological sections, the book concludes with a letter from Lukacs to Kennan dated January 25, 2004, only weeks before Kennan's 100th birthday and 14 months before his death.
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"[A] fascinating volume. . . . The book poses anew, in an admirably lean and accessible way, a question that has long swirled around Kennan: What were the intellectual underpinnings of his insistence on a restrained, 'realist' foreign policy that shunned bold efforts to remake the world in the American image?"—New York Times
"An invaluable contribution."—William Pfaff, New York Review of Books