Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War

Containment. 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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