Through the History of the Cold War by John Lukacs
The Correspondence of George F. Kennan and John Lukacs

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Synopsis

In September 1952, John Lukacs, then a young and unknown historian, wrote George Kennan (1904-2005), the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, asking one of the nation's best-known diplomats what he thought of Lukacs's own views on Kennan's widely debated idea of containing rather than militarily confronting the Soviet Union. A month later, to Lukacs's surprise, he received a personal reply from Kennan.

So began an exchange of letters that would continue for more than fifty years. Lukacs would go on to become one of America's most distinguished and prolific diplomatic historians, while Kennan, who would retire from public life to begin a new career as Pulitzer Prize-winning author, would become revered as the man whose strategy of containment led to a peaceful end to the Cold War. Their letters, collected here for the first time, capture the writing and thinking of two of the country's most important voices on America's role and place in world affairs. From the division of Europe into East and West after World War II to its unification as the Soviet Union disintegrated, and from the war in Vietnam to the threat of nuclear annihilation and the fate of democracy in America and the world, this book provides an insider's tour of the issues and pivotal events that defined the Cold War.

The correspondence also charts the growth and development of an intellectual and personal friendship that was intense, devoted, and honest. As Kennan later wrote Lukacs in letter, "perceptive, understanding, and constructive criticism is . . . as I see it, in itself a form of creative philosophical thought." It is a belief to which both men subscribed and that they both practiced.

Presented with an introduction by Lukacs, the letters in Through the History of the Cold War reveal new dimensions to Kennan's thinking about America and its future, and illuminate the political—and spiritual—philosophies that the two authors shared as they wrote about a world transformed by war and by the clash of ideologies that defined the twentieth century.

 

About John Lukacs

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John Lukacs is Emeritus Professor of History at Chestnut Hill College and the author of numerous books, including Five Days in London.
 
Published June 6, 2011 by University of Pennsylvania Press. 289 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Through the History of the Cold War

The New York Times

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By conceiving the “containment” strategy that guided United States foreign policy throughout the cold war, Kennan not only stamped his ideas on an entire era of the nation’s history but also, eulogists suggested, pointed the way to the ultimate American victory over Soviet Communism.

Jul 23 2010 | Read Full Review of Through the History of the Co...

Publishers Weekly

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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 i...

Aug 02 2010 | Read Full Review of Through the History of the Co...

Bookmarks Magazine

It is a belief to which both men subscribed and that they both practiced.

Presented with an introduction by Lukacs, the letters in Through the History of the Cold War reveal new dimensions to Kennan's thinking about America and its future, and illuminate the political—and spirit...

Jul 26 2010 | Read Full Review of Through the History of the Co...

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