A brilliant and revealing biography of the two most important Americans during the Cold War era—written by the grandson of one of them
Only two Americans held positions of great influence throughout the Cold War; ironically, they were the chief advocates for the opposing strategies for winning—and surviving—that harrowing conflict. Both men came to power during World War II, reached their professional peaks during the Cold War’s most frightening moments, and fought epic political battles that spanned decades. Yet despite their very different views, Paul Nitze and George Kennan dined together, attended the weddings of each other’s children, and remained good friends all their lives.
In this masterly double biography, Nicholas Thompson brings Nitze and Kennan to vivid life. Nitze—the hawk—was a consummate insider who believed that the best way to avoid a nuclear clash was to prepare to win one. More than any other American, he was responsible for the arms race. Kennan—the dove—was a diplomat turned academic whose famous “X article” persuasively argued that we should contain the Soviet Union while waiting for it to collapse from within. For forty years, he exercised more influence on foreign affairs than any other private citizen.
As he weaves a fascinating narrative that follows these two rivals and friends from the beginning of the Cold War to its end, Thompson accomplishes something remarkable: he tells the story of our nation during the most dangerous half century in history.
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Nicholas Thompson is an editor at Wired magazine, a fellow at the New America Foundation, and a regular contributor to CNN. He has written articles for The New York Times, The Washington Post and numerous other publications. A grandson of Paul Nitze’s, he lives in New York City with his wife and son.From AudioFile:
Working in the intricate web of American diplomacy during the Cold War, Paul Nitze and George Kennan became legendary. This double biography keeps them entwined like thorny roses of two colors on a trellis. Their accomplishments in designing and managing U.S./Soviet policy generate a riveting account that is logically organized, eloquently written, and well documented. Michael Prichard, one of the best nonfiction audio narrators, lifts the prose from the page to reality with his ability to enrich it with nuance and fluidity. He creates identifiable character voices for the principals without sounding comedic. Prichard's method of allowing the humor and satire to speak for themselves encourages listeners to smile at whatever they wish. The production won't disappoint listeners looking for both entertainment and political history. J.A.H. © AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine
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