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We all read him, those of us who did graduate work in U.S. diplomatic history in the late 1980s and early 1990s. For although there were other important figures in modern U.S. foreign relations, only one was George Kennan, the “father of containment,” who later became an astute critic of U.S. policy as well as a prize-winning historian. We dissected Kennan’s famous “Long Telegram” of February 1946, his “X” article in these pages from the following year, and his lengthy and unvarnished report on Latin America from March 1950. We devoured his slim but influential 1951 book, American Diplomacy, based on lectures he gave at the University of Chicago; his memoirs, which appeared in two installments in 1967 and 1972 and the first of which received both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award; and any other publication he wrote that we could get our hands on. (I figured there was no skipping Russia Leaves the War, from 1956, as it won not only the same awards garnered by the first volume of his memoirs but also the George Bancroft Prize and the Francis Parkman Prize.) And we dove into the quartet of important studies of Kennan then coming out in rapid succession by our seniors in the guild—by David Mayers, Walter Hixson, Anders Stephanson, and Wilson Miscamble.


Logevall, Fredrik. "The Ghosts of Kennan: Lessons from the Start of a Cold War." Review of Kennan: A Life Between Worlds, by Frank Costigliola.102.1, January/February 2023: 170-179.