George F. Kennan (1904–2005) was an American diplomat, political scientist and historian. He is best known for his role in shaping US foreign policy during the Cold War and, in particular, for the doctrine of containment. Kennan was Professor Emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and served as Ambassador to the USSR in 1952 and as Ambassador to Yugoslavia from 1961 to 1963. His books include At a Century’s Ending and An American Family.


Memorandum for the Minister

The document that follows is an analysis of the Soviet Union written in August 1932 by George F. Kennan, then a twenty-eight-year-old member of the Foreign Service, stationed in Riga, Latvia. Mr. Kennan has supplied the background to the document in the following note written for The New York Review.

Witness to the Fall

Autopsy on an Empire: The American Ambassador's Account of the Collapse of The Soviet Union

by Jack F Matlock Jr.
“Blest is the man who has visited this world in its fateful moments…” —F.I. Tyutchev (1803–1873) Reviewing the history of international affairs in the modern era, which might be considered to extend from the middle of the seventeenth century to the present, I find it hard to …

In Defense of Oppenheimer

The excellent review in these pages by Thomas Powers of the book entitled Special Tasks by Pavel Sudoplatov and his son gives so thorough and searching an appraisal of the book as a whole that there is hardly any need for me or anyone else to attempt to add anything …

The Balkan Crisis: 1913 and 1993

At the outset of the present century there emerged in the United States, England, and other parts of northern Europe a vigorous movement for strengthening and consolidating world peace, primarily by the developing of new legal codes of international behavior. The movement was given a significant fillip when Tsar Nicholas …

Keeping the Faith

Summer Meditations

by Václav Havel, translated by Paul Wilson
Václav Havel, the courageous leading dissident in the years of Communist control of Czechoslovakia, and more recently president of that country, needs no introduction to the readers of The New York Review. His name has appeared on the pages of the Review in a number of capacities. Known originally primarily …


The Uses of Adversity: Essays on the Fate of Central Europe

by Timothy Garton Ash
In the course of the 1980s the small coterie of Anglo-American writers who had been addressing themselves to the movement of life in Eastern Europe in the years since 1948 found itself somewhat abruptly enhanced by the accession to its ranks of a remarkable young English scholar, Mr. Timothy Garton …

On the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe

(The following is the introductory statement presented by Mr. Kennan in his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 17.) The situation in the Soviet Union is, at this moment, unstable in high degree. The extensive failure, to date, of perestroika to meet even the normal demands of …