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New Book Review up at PRAGATI: George F. Kennan: an American Life


PRAGATI – the Indian National Interest Review has published my review of John Lewis Gaddis’ biography George F. Kennan: An American Life 

The creative art of strategy 

….Into the breach strides eminent diplomatic historian John Lewis Gaddis, offering a magisterial 784 page biography, a quarter- century in the making, George F. Kennan: An American Life. Gaddis, a noted historian of the Cold War and critic of revisionist interpretations of American foreign policy, has produced his magnum opus, distilling not only the essence of Kennan’s career, but the origins of his grand strategic worldview that were part and parcel the self-critical and lonely isolation that made Kennan such an acute observer of foreign societies and a myopic student of his own.

Gaddis, who is a co-founder of the elite Grand Strategy Program at Yale University, had such a long intellectual association with his subject, having been appointed Kennan’s biographer in 1982, that one wonders on theories of strategy at times where George Kennan ends and John Lewis Gaddis begins. Giving Kennan the supreme compliment among strategists, that he possessed in the years of the Long Telegram and the Policy Planning Staff, Clausewitz’s Coup d’oeil, Gaddis does not shy away from explaining Kennan’s human imperfections to the reader that made the diplomat a study in contradictions….

Read the rest here.

4 Responses to “New Book Review up at PRAGATI: George F. Kennan: an American Life”

  1. J. Scott Shipman Says:

    Congratulations, Zen! Excellent review. I’ll have to add this to the list.

  2. Madhu Says:

    Lovely review. Beautifully written.
    Zen, J. Scott, Charles, and others:
    My interest in strategy must be related to my interest in the arts (novels and paintings, in particular right?
    We’ve had this conversation before, I believe. You were an art major, Zen? Do I remember that correctly.
    Anyway, nice review.

  3. J.ScottShipman Says:

    Hi Madhu, I do recall you mentioning the intersection of strategy and art. You may want to check out (if you’ve not already read) The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece. There is also a book brought to my attention today from an infrequent correspondent via an email called The Medici Effect (you may be able to go The Medici Group website and get an electronic copy). There are two or three other titles that escape me, but I’ll share if I remember.

  4. zen Says:

    Ha! Yes, i was a double-major as an undergrad. Art and History, so I had a wide dose of humanities. Strategy is a creative endeavor

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