Frank Costigliola, the editor of the George F. Kennan diaries and a professor of history at the University of Connecticut, is the author of Lost Alliances: How Personal Politics Helped Start the Cold War, which will be published in December. (December 2011)


Is This George Kennan?

George Kennan, 1984

George F. Kennan: An American Life

by John Lewis Gaddis
It seemed like the perfect match. In the late 1970s John Lewis Gaddis was smart, sympathetic, and eager to write the biography. George F. Kennan admired Gaddis as probably “the best of the younger historians of American policy in the immediate postwar period.” Kennan had earned enormous respect over his long career as a diplomat, historian, public intellectual, and critic of US policy in the cold war. Yet he remained thin-skinned about any disparagement. Anxious to have his voice heard by future generations, Kennan worried that “weak and superficial”—and wrongheaded—biographies would garble his message and life story.