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A brilliant and revealing biography of the two most important Americans during the Cold War era—written by the grandson of one of them Only two Americans held positions of great influence throughout the Cold War; ironically, they were the chief advocates for the opposing strategies for winning—and surviving—that harrowing conflict. Both men came to power during WorlA brilliant and revealing biography of the two most important Americans during the Cold War era—written by the grandson of one of themOnly two Americans held positions of great influence throughout the Cold War; ironically, they were the chief advocates for the opposing strategies for winning—and surviving—that harrowing conflict. Both men came to power during World War II, reached their professional peaks during the Cold War’s most frightening moments, and fought epic political battles that spanned decades. Yet despite their very different views, Paul Nitze and George Kennan dined together, attended the weddings of each other’s children, and remained good friends all their lives.In this masterly double biography, Nicholas Thompson brings Nitze and Kennan to vivid life. Nitze—the hawk—was a consummate insider who believed that the best way to avoid a nuclear clash was to prepare to win one. More than any other American, he was responsible for the arms race. Kennan—the dove—was a diplomat turned academic whose famous “X article†persuasively argued that we should contain the Soviet Union while waiting for it to collapse from within. For forty years, he exercised more influence on foreign affairs than any other private citizen.As he weaves a fascinating narrative that follows these two rivals and friends from the beginning of the Cold War to its end, Thompson accomplishes something remarkable: he tells the story of our nation during the most dangerous half century in history. ...

Title : The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War
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ISBN : 9780805081428
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 416 Pages
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The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War Reviews

  • Merilee
    2018-12-26 12:58

    More like 4.5 stars...This is a very well-written and interesting joint biography of two of the biggest U.S. players in the Cold War, written by Nitze's grandson (though I could detect no partisanship on his part). These men disagreed on many issues during their long friendship, yet never lost respect for each other. Near the end, Thompson quotes from a speech which Nitze gave at his son's 1953 boarding school commencement, using the image of the tension in a bow or guitar, which could apply as much to the relationship between Kennan and Nitze as to East vs West:"...the answer is to be found not in the elimination of one of the opposite or in any basic compromise between them but in striving for a harmony in tension between opposites."

  • Susan
    2018-12-30 13:56

    The Hawk and the Dove was a subject that interested me--the Cold War and George Kennan whom I always liked. I had negative view of Paul Nitze and looked forward to the contrast between him and Kennan. The book was much more complex than the title would suggest. It's an excellent history. Because Baker is Nitze's grandson, he had access to papers who one else had seen. Some from family sources. Then, at the end of the book, Baker recounts going to visit the school Nitze founded (Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins) on a Saturday. He mentioned Nitze's papers to a janitor and the janitor said "Follow me." He expected to be taken to the 6th floor where the papers were stored, but they got off on the 4th floor where the janitor showed him a store of about 50 old dusty boxes in a closet. They were indeed Nitze papers which evidently no one else but the janitor knew about.Thompson presents both Nitze and Kennas as extremely complex people who responded differently sometimes and the same sometimes to current issues. Kennan was the intellectual; Nitze, the man of action, both obviously extremely intelligent and totally dedicated to service to their country. They were within a couple of years of each other in age and both lived approximately 100 years, Nitze a bit less and Kennan lived to be 101!Anyone with interest in the Cold War shouldn't miss this book.

  • Jerome
    2019-01-17 13:16

    The book has the strength of its limitations; it is biography, not history. It presents history as seen and experienced by Kennan and Nitze. It conveys their personalities, roles, judgments and impacts on the complex and world-threatening era we call the Cold War. The author does this with a clear narrative thread and communicates the person without psychodrama and hagiography. Sensibly, this narrative addresses the history as his dualistic pair saw and experienced it. Accordingly, it omits many aspects of the context of that experience. The Cuban Bay of Pigs gets just a paragraph or so. Many background events and leading figures are left out of the story or treated cursorily. Examples are the role of Adeneuer, "Der Alte", in so many ways central to the rehabilitation of German society and economics, the Suez Canal debacle of 1956, the Nuclear Disarmament campaigns that solidified the left across Europe, and the often bizarre policies of Foster Dulles in insisting a nation was either for us or against us and India's role in leading the nonaligned movement.The book's main purpose is to tell the story of the Cold War by using the interactions and tensions between Nitze and Kennan to bring much of American Cold War policies to life. Much of these discussions are intellectual, but Thompson makes it very readable..George Kennan and Paul Nitze were two of the most emblematic figures of the Cold War. By any measure their contributions to American government were enormous. Kennan is one of the most fascinating personalities from the last half of the 20th century. He is generally considered to have had a deeper understanding of the Soviet Union than any other individual and, as Nicholas Thompson so ably explains, anticipated many of the major developments in the last decades of the past century. He prophesied in the 1940s with uncanny accuracy the eventual fate of the Soviet Union, explaining both how and why the system would eventually implode and collapse. He was one of the major architects of the Marshall Plan, one of the greatest achievements in the history of American foreign policy. And he was the author of the famous Long Telegram, which evinced an understanding of the Soviet Union. His theory of containment dominated nearly all American policy during the Cold War, even if he complained that the ways that "containment" were construed varied from his own understanding. His insight into world affairs was unsurpassed by any other foreign policy expert of the century and he had no rival in articulating his understanding. Kennan was, by any standard, a great writer. At several points in the course of his public career Kennan was able to provide a way of viewing a group of issues so as to alter public comprehension. Yet, Kennan was also something of a crank. Though he was celebrated as a hero by the Left, he held a number of not merely conservative but reactionary view. He was personally extremely conservative, especially on cultural matters. He disliked men with long hair and didn't care for social change. I suspect he hated the Beatles. Many of his beliefs -- such as the desirability of the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain unifying under a capital to be located in Canada -- were downright weird. He was often a crank. He described himself as an 18th century man and certainly he had many of the oddities of a Gibbon (whom he loved) or Samuel Johnson. I find Kennan fascinating for being so brilliant at one moment and so bizarre the next.Nitze, who is the grandfather of the author of the book (at no point did I sense that Thompson was being kinder to his grandfather or less fair to Kennan than he ought), is a far less interesting character than Kennan. He lacked Kennan's enormous prescience and insight, and while a competent writer was not touched by genius as was Kennan. One is struck, however, by Nitze's drive and dedication and his enormous practical abilities. Nitze's two greatest contributions were on the one hand advocating the huge arms build up that occurred in the fifties and sixties and one the other hand his work on disarmament in the seventies and eighties. I find it fascinating that while Kennan was adored by the Left and Nitze by some on the Right, Kennan held many conservative beliefs and Nitze many liberal ones. The truth is that neither fit comfortably into simple characterizations of conservative or liberal. Frankly, I find both of them more interesting for being less than predictable.The joint biography does a splendid job of recounting most of the central foreign policy crises that occurred during the period. You get a great sense of the various personalities involved, from James Forrestal to George Marshall to Dean Acheson to Henry Kissinger to George Schulz to all the presidents of those years, as well as the major leaders of other countries, in particular the Soviet Union.The book also undercuts the current ahistorical claims about the role of Ronald Reagan in ending the Cold War. This is true of any actual historical accounts of the period. Reagan's greatest role in the Cold War was in his considerable accomplishments in arms control. This may, in fact, have been the great achievement of his presidency. The book demonstrated Reagan's extremely superficial understanding of the issues surrounding nuclear weapons (while Nitze liked Reagan, he considered him incompetent on nuclear issues and had nothing but utter disdain for his Star Wars initiative). As Thompson chronicles, the Soviet Union, as Kennan had predicted, was already suffering enormously from the strain of the arms race well before Reagan was president. In 1972 Brezhnev yearned for the completion of the SALT I agreement to help ease the great strain on the Soviet economy created by the arms race. The standard argument by Reagan's fans was that he caused an escalation in the arms race, but in fact the Soviets did not increase military spending during Reagan's presidency. The strain on their economy definitely preceded Reagan. And the reason that Reagan's fans hate Kennan so much is that his work as architect of the strategy for winning the Cold War lessens Reagan's role. Kennan's strategy of containment was embraced by every American president from Truman to Bush 41, with no exceptions, and it had precisely the effect Kennan predicted. He insisted that if we resisted the Soviet Union and limited its spread by his policy of containment (though his understanding was political containment, rather than the military containment that Nitze preferred), it would collapse upon itself, which is precisely what happened. Fans of Reagan, so desperate for political reasons to give him a legacy that he does not deserve (while refusing to grant him the legacy that he does deserve, as someone who worked hard for disarmament, with some success), don't like Kennan because he undercuts the script that they have concocted for him. They are not helped by the fact that virtually no historians outside of the United States (and even then virtually no historians who are not conservative Republicans) view Reagan as having played an especially role in bringing about the end of the Cold War. Unlike George Kennan, whom they do.Kennan was an odd sort of duck, highly intelligent, lonely, often feeling touchy or spurned or ill-used, who moved from the famous Long Telegram and X article in Foreign Affairs, where he came across as what at that time would have been something of a hawk, to become an advocate of a far more dovish policy towards the Soviets, pushing for a diplomatic engagement rather than a military one. He lived to be 101 years old, long enough to consider his point of view vindicated. Less well known today are his less popular ideas - without question he was something of an authoritarian, feeling democracy as a government model an inefficient way to fight the world struggle; his writings leave a trail of anti-Semitism and racism at times. Kennan increasingly found himself to be out of a government job, though called upon from time to time by various administrations and the press as an expert until his death.Nitze was different temperamentally as well as politically. Beginning from his experiences in studying the WWII strategic bombing campaigns against Nazi Germany and then Japan, including the results of the US use of nuclear weapons, he become likely the most well-informed (not to say opinionated) government non-scientist official regarding nuclear strategy, policy, and subsequently arms control detail. While generally speaking considered to be an ultra-hawk, there are instances of compromise or reasoned anti-war opinion (particularly regarding Vietnam). His impact on policy from a governmental position was far larger and apparently more influential than that of Kennan; he remained involved in the SALT and START talks right up until the collapse of the Soviet Union, by which time he was in his 80s, and when he died at 97, he also could consider himself and his opinions on how to handle the Cold War vindicated.In all, an excellent work of both biography and Cold War history.

  • Mont
    2019-01-22 13:11

    MONT'S READING NOTESTHE HAWK AND THE DOVE:Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold Warby Nicholas Thompson Henry Holt2009(Read 1-10-12)Prologue. Both idiosyncratic and original men; neither really conformed to these labels. They represented two great strains of American thought. Nitze: the hawk; best way to avoid nuclear clash was to prepare to win one. If you want peace prepare for war. Idealist. Treated wounds as scratches. Diligent insider. Grandfather of author.Kennan: if you want peace, act peacefully; for every military conflict he argued for forbearance. Realist, objected to arms race, Nato, UN, Korea, Eisenhower, Vietnam, student movement, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Bush II. Uncanny ability to predict. Minor slights sent into deep despair. Treated scratches as wounds. Wise outsider.1. End of WWII. Kennan in Moscow; Nitze assigned to Strategic Bombing Survey; learn from German’s how to better bomb Japan; interviewed Albert Speer; taught him most important lesson: knock out basic infrastructure.2. Kennan, born 1904, Midwesterner; mother died at birth; sent to a military school where he was beaten. Princeton, married Norwegian woman; married to Annelise 74 years; often sick; disoriented after returning to USA in 1937; felt like a man without a country; disgusted with consumerism and advertising; misanthropic; “The only solution to the problem lies along the road which leads through constitutional change to authoritarian government.”Nitze; born 1907, Midwesterner, father philogist at Univ Chicago who lived in 10C; Harvard. Conrad was favorite writer; accidentally killed woman in a car accident; married to Phyllis for 55 years.Joined Dillon Reed firm on Wall Street. James Forestal was mentor; followed into FDR administration;3. American had stolen fire from the gods. Nitze in Japan to put calipers on destruction and on recovery; Hiroshima: struck by quick reconstruction of railroad and how reinforced concrete survived bombing. Walked in ruins as representative of conqueror; Nagasaki residents who reached shelters survived. Informed his belief that US could withstand a nuclear attack.4. The Long Telegram. Sought to answer why US unable to find policy toward USSR that worked. Traditional diplomacy ineffective; USSR aggressive expansion whether or not USA played nice or stern. Every action of USSR made perverse sense. USSR feared west as more competent and powerful and organized; men in Kremlin did not believe in Marxism; fig leaf for moral and intellectual responsibility. Stalin ran thuggish police state. USSR pretending to be something else. Marxism a cover. With US there can be no compromise.Stalin does not receive objective picture of outside world. USA needed to find midpoint b/n war and peace. USA push back wherever possible. USSR did not want war; Nitze worked on USSBS report. But nobody cared. USN and USAF only wanted to use it or discredit it for appropriations, not to learn from it. Taught Nitze not to be in awe of generals. Concluded that Japan would have surrendered even without atomic bomb.5. Nitze respected Marshall, utterly incorruptible. Indifferent to mass media; totally loyal to coworkers; Marshall advised Nitze to “avoid trivia.” Truman Doctrine: ‘policy of USA to support free people attempting to resist attempted subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressures.”Nitze agreed and was proud; Kennan, like Orwell thought language sloppy and dishonest;Kennan the Prophet; the X article: USSR paranoid view will not change. Needed external menace to keep system from collapse, exposing leaders as frauds. USSR would always double cross America; USA cannot persuade USSR by logic; must have “long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies. “ We need not defeat USSR just outlast it.” USSR held “seeds of own destruction” “refraining from provoking ‘USSR might be changed overnight from one of strongest to weakest and most pitiable of national societies.” Walter Lippmann : Containment meant letting enemy pick battlefields.” USA must respond on Soviet terms. Inevitably meant overstretch. 1948 new Republican majority did not easily agree to Marshall Plan. Nitze a master of charts.6. Kennan argues for a full range of responses, all of which were political containment, including black ops. Kennan believed communism came in many different shades of red. GK influence fades. Like Oliver Wendell Holmes, became known for his formidable dissents;7. GK believed on judging enemy by intentions not his capabilities. PN believed in judging by capabilities not intentions b/c passive regime could be hostile overnight. PN and GK drift apart.PN knew nuclear damage was finite. If other side knew you would triumph in ultimate battle they would likely accede in skirmishes. Whichever side feared escalation would make most concessions. Differences b/n Oppenheimer and Teller paralleled those b/n PN and GK.PN writes NSC-68. Stated world faced battle b/n slavery and freedom. Americas survival depended on rapid build up of forces. Most important assertion was that US could afford massive arms buildup. PN was Wall Street numbers man.8. Korea: PN was hawk re stockpiling of weapons but not when it came to using them.9. GK writes American Diplomacy in 1952, broadside against moralistic/legalistic approach to foreign policy. US did not understand what motivated other nations and did not use their own points of leverage. Instead of grandstanding, arring and constantly meddling in countries and cultures we did not understand, we should have “an attitude of detachment and soberness and readiness to reserve judgment.” Realism. With rare exceptions we should leave other countries alone. No country could have devise influence on another. PN saw world differently; must organize energies of free world. USA fully capable of changing world for better. Obsessed w/ correlation of forces, a comparison of USSR and USA forces, mathematical notion. PN coach on side line of never ending race exhorting runner to run faster. PN could not get job w/ Eisenhower/Dulles. Eisenhower had pledged to roll USSR back in 52 election. GK becomes friends w/ Stalin’s defecting daughter, Svetlana. Ike frugal w/ defense spending. PN wanted more.10. Both in wilderness during Ike. Both had farms. PN played tennis and skied. Kissinger like PN thought nuclear war winnable; chaplain aboard pirate ship; GK: writing history: “common refuge of those who find themselves helpless in the face of the present.” Khrushchev denounces Stalin. PN views again in demand after Sputnik.11. Khrushchev grew up Ukrainian peasant; illiterate; bald and shaped like pear; PN’s flexible response: if someone shouts at you, raise your fists; if antagonist does the same, pull a knife; if he pulls knife, pull a gun. Ideally, you can settle the dispute without any of the weapons actually being used. Nitze damaged himself w/ JFK b/c too hawkish over Cuba and refused to socialize with Kennedy’s.12. PN to many the “dark overbearing stage of nuclear warfare.” never completely on anyone’s team, he lacked constituency to defend him.13 PN naval secretary. Told LBJ to get out of Vietnam. Slow-down, disengage, reprioritize. GKwanted peace and quiet. When he got it he used it to flagellate himself14. GK and PN reached opposed conclusions through temperament and experience. PN built home telephone sets; GK wrote poetry; PN trusted in numbers and charts; GK believed technology destroyed more than created. PN gained confidence; GK from death of mother, spent life learning doubt; self doubt as well as doubt in wisdom of men making decisions for the world. PN believed government made sound decisions; GK felt government would go astray.15. Stalin voracious reader; memorized Chekhov and Gogol; read Thackeray, Balzac and Plato Georgian; alcoholic father; wife killed herself in 1932; “She took what was good in him to the grave.”

  • Tripp
    2019-01-15 13:57

    The Hawk and the Dove is one of the most accessible and enjoyable books about the Cold War to come out in quite awhile. The book's biographical studies of Paul Nitze and George Kennan makes the story engaging and easy to follow. The idea that Nitze was the hawk and Kennan the dove makes stark a more muddled picture, but their relationship nicely highlights philosophical differences in the Cold War. Nitze often pushed the hard line and the militarization of containment, while its author Kennan thought that most military activity was wasteful and unnecessary, although he had a virulent hatred for the Communists.The book is also concise. The Cold War is a big story, but author Nicholas Thompson (who is related to Nitze) doesn't feel compelled to pad the book with excess background information about the Cold War. He tells what needs to be told and then moves on. Having a background in the subject will help, but it is not necessary. The focus on philosophy also helps.I really liked the book. There are wonderful anecdotes and it the focus on the perspectives of the two men is illuminating. Although both men are legend in international relations, neither was ever really satisfied in their career, feeling they had been shut out of where they should be. There is sad moment where Nitze thinks he will get a plum spot in the Carter administration only to find himself without any job at all. All in all, a great read. Watch out, though, for the occasional lapse into conspiracy theory. Thompson mentions a number of mysterious deaths that surround the making of foreign policy. It is by no means the focus of the book, or even of a given chapter, but it pops up in odd places.

  • James Murphy
    2019-01-01 15:06

    I'm not sure if the subtitle's claiming this is a history of the Cold War. To my mind it's not. It's certainly a narrative of the service of two men influential in how America competed with the Soviet Union in the Cold War years. The material is biographical and heavily anecdotal rather than analytical. And always interesting.

  • Lauren Albert
    2019-01-04 09:18

    A fascinating look at two of the most important men involved in cold-war decision and opinion making. Though Thompson is Nitze's grandson, he is very even-handed in his presentation of the two friends and rivals.

    2018-12-28 09:21

    This was one of the 2010 RUSA Notable Books winners. For the complete list, go to

  • David Schwartz
    2018-12-25 08:08

    The story of the Cold War has been told in many ways and through many lenses. Thompson’s well-written 2009 account takes a unique perspective, recounting the story through the lives of two of its major participants – Paul Nitze and George Kennan. Students of the Cold War will not find much new here, but Thompson’s is a unique and compelling perspective, especially since he is Nitze’s grandson. What legitimizes his approach is that Kennan and Nitze worked closely together for a time at the outset of the Cold War, when Kennan gave the first coherent articulation of the doctrine of Containment, and then famously parted company when it came to the implementation of that doctrine. Their rivalry spanned more than five decades. So did their friendship.Thompson does a skillful job in weaving together the highlights of each career, as well as providing interesting (and sometimes quite intimate) personal color on each. The highlights of Kennan’s career are well known to students of post-war US foreign policy: his early, lonely years at Princeton; his first obscure years as a diplomat in the Moscow embassy; the war years, during which he was interned by German troops; his return to Moscow after the war, and his instant notoriety when he sent the now famous Long Telegram to Washington, with is analysis of the drivers of Soviet policy; the publication of the Mr. X article in Foreign Affairs, which brought him fame in the world outside diplomatic circles; his work, alongside his deputy Paul Nitze, in the original Policy Planning Staff at State under Secretary Marshall; his subsequent disputes with Marshall’s successor, Dean Acheson; his departure from government and his subsequent career as a diplomatic historian and a public intellectual, during which he famously criticized the military buildup that others justified by reference to his own doctrines of containment, and the many foreign policy adventures of the later Cold War, notably the Vietnam War. He also details some less-well known aspects of Kennan’s life, such as his deep involvement with the setting up of covert intelligence operations at the outset of the Cold War, and his close relationship with Stalin’s daughter Svetlana Alleluyeva. I was also surprised to learn that Walter Lipmann’s savage attack against Kennan’s Foreign Affairs article may have been conditioned by Lipmann’s hatred of the editor of Foreign Affairs magazine, Hamilton Fish Armstrong, who stole Lipmann’s wife. (They didn’t teach us that in our foreign policy courses at university!) Paul Nitze, Kennan’s colleague, rival, and friend for more than 50 years, was temperamentally almost the anti-Kennan. The outline of his amazing life and career are not as well known to the general public, but make for fascinating reading. A gregarious, socially gifted undergraduate at Harvard who wrangled an invitation to join the Porcellian Club in spite of the fact that he had none of the social connections required for entry, he gallivanted around Europe and eventually landed a job at the prestigious investment bank Dillon Read, where by his own admission his mistakes were legendary. He married well, though, and made enough money that, once World War II arrived, he could spend the rest of his life in public service without worrying how to finance his elegant and aristocratic lifestyle. (He was one of the founders of the Aspen ski resort.) He was brought into the government by his Dillon Read mentor, James Forrestal, who was to become the first Secretary of Defense after the war, and was almost immediately fired for insubordination. However, in a move that he would repeat throughout his life, he landed on his feet, this time as a staff member of the Strategic Bombing Survey. His drive, energy, hunger for data, and knack for playing bureaucratic politics resulted in him basically driving the survey to completion, in the process becoming a well known figure in the corridors of Congress and developing strong, if controversial, views on the role of strategic bombing and the potential role to be played by nuclear weapons in a strategic bombing campaign. Brought into the State Department as Kennan’s deputy, he managed to outlast Kennan, and became a close advisor to Acheson. His memo to the President, known universally by its bureaucratic label NSC-68, argued for a massive across-the-board build up US military forces, and was the basis for the development of the US nuclear program, the growth of US conventional forces, the expansion of the US base system throughout the globe, and the creation of our Alliance systems. Out of government with the election of Eisenhower, Nitze spent the next eight years working in the background of policy debates, developing analyses of the conventional and nuclear balance between east and west, and working closely with nuclear strategists at the RAND Corporation and elsewhere to explore the circumstances in which it might actually make sense to use nuclear weapons against the Soviet Union, in light of his experience with the Strategic Bombing Survey. Many of these ideas, championed by him and others, were eventually adopted when the Kennedy Administration came into office, under the rubric “flexible response.” Kennedy brought him into his Administration as a lowly Assistant Secretary of Defense, but Nitze eventually found himself promoted to Secretary of the Navy and then Deputy Secretary of Defense. (His rise to the very top of the Pentagon was blocked by Barry Goldwater and other conservative senators, whom he hand angered during his years out of office.) Under Kennedy he played an active role in the deliberations of the ExComm, the small group of advisors Kennedy brought together to advise on the Cuban Missile Crisis; he was initially in favor of a “surgical strike,” but later supported the idea of a blockade, which of course was eventually successful. He was perhaps more surprisingly an internal skeptic on the Vietnam War – always data-driven, he didn’t shirk from the implications of the analysis he and his team at the Pentagon made – but in what is perhaps the most inexplicable development of Nitze’s career, he supported the option of a major troop deployment to Vietnam in 1965, a buildup which irrevocably committed the US to a ground war in Vietnam. However, his concerns about the war continued. And when McNamara stepped down in 1968, Nitze continued to work under the new Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford; the two of them argued forcefully for an end to our involvement. A lifelong Democrat, he was sidelined briefly in the first year of the Nixon Administration, but because of his influence within the national security community, he was invited to be the Defense Department member of the first Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) delegation under Gerard Smith. Soon he discovered that Nixon’s NSC advisor Henry Kissinger had created a “back channel” going behind the back of the delegation, and quit in disgust. He became a strong opponent of the approach taken by Smith and by Smith’s successor in SALT II, Paul Warnke; he worried that the greater size of Soviet warheads, not taken into account in either agreement, left the Soviets with a strategic advantage. (Critics of Nitze often claimed that his opposition to SALT II was triggered not only by the technical “flaws” in the treaty but by his dislike for President Carter, who snubbed him by not giving him a position in his Administration.) His lobbying efforts through his policy-advocacy organization, the Committee on the Present Danger, led to a failure of the Senate to ratify SALT II, and led the subsequent Reagan Administration to deride the agreement as “fundamentally flawed.” Indeed, although the US abided by the limits of the agreement, it was never ratified. In his mid-70s, Nitze was brought back into the Reagan Administration as the chief negotiator for the Intermediate Range Nuclear Force (INF) talks, beginning in 1982. The issues behind this negotiation are too complex to delve into here, but suffice it to say that when faced with instructions from Washington that led to two sterile sessions of negotiations with the Soviets, Nitze decided to work off the record with his counterpart to break the impasse, the so-called “Walk in the Woods”; when his masters in Washington learned of this, they instructed him to withdraw the solution, but before he could do so, his Soviet counterpart returned with the news that his own masters in Moscow told him to repudiate their solution.The talks went nowhere for another year, when US missiles were installed in Europe the following year, the Soviets walked out of the talks. It took the arrival of Mikhail Gorbachev to get arms talks going again, and in the 1986 summit between Reagan and Gorbachev, Nitze and his colleagues almost hammered out an astonishing agreement to reduce nuclear stockpiles by 50 percent, but the agreement finally foundered on the US insistence on being allowed to continue to do research on strategic defense (so-called “Star Wars”) weapons. But progress was made on INF, and this enabled Nitze to return to Geneva and put the finishing touches on an agreement that eliminated this class of weapons of both sides from Europe. The INF Treaty was signed by Reagan and Gorbachev in late 1987, and with significant help from Nitze lobbying skeptical senators, passed into law. Now 80 years old, Nitze passed into a belated retirement, working out of the Johns Hopkins School for International and Strategic Studies which he had helped to found during the Eisenhower Administration, and keeping his hand in the national security debates from time to time. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, he began to contemplate the elimination of nuclear weapons as a reasonable policy objective, a position which his old colleague Kennan had long before adopted. Logical to the end, Nitze saw the existential threat posed by an expansionist Soviet Union disappear, and he drew what he considered to be the only logical conclusion – get rid of the weapons.(I am conscious of having spent far more time reviewing Nitze’s career than I have Kennan’s – perhaps because Nitze was a more active participant in US government activities for most of his life, whereas Kennan was, for most of his adult life, a quiet scholar resident at Princeton’s Institute of Advanced Studies. ) Much has been made of the rivalry between these two giants of US foreign policy, and it’s easy to see why. There were times when they worked closely together and agreed on what they were doing – the Berlin Airlift, for example, and the Marshall Plan. But for many years after, they disagreed on almost everything. While acknowledging the threat posed by Soviet power, Kennan seemed to prefer responses that focused on political and cultural measures (although Kennan was always a strong supporter of covert operations to nudge the policy of containment along the right path.) He was instinctively wary of involvement in foreign adventures, believing that there were few means at our disposal to make a real difference in the way other governments behaved, and that most of these means were fraught with danger for ourselves. He was in many ways an arch-conservative, and liked to think of himself as an 18th century man. (He was, perhaps, even a bit of an anti-Semite – he certainly was never particularly sensitive to issues of ethnic and racial diversity.) He was a reluctant actor in history, always fretting about how his most eloquent pieces of foreign policy analysis had resulted in an historically unprecedented arms race that might have resulted in the destruction of the globe. And he seemed to be ruled by his heart as well as his head, often wavering on one issue or another, and changing his mind at several times during the course of his life. Throughout his professional life he deplored the tendency of others to engage in bean-counting approaches to measuring the balance of power between the US and the Soviet Union, always relying on a sophisticated assessment of Soviet intentions rather than a technical analysis of their capabilities. Kennan’s did not possess a ruthless logic, nor an ability to synthesize massive amounts of data, nor an ability to get along with people (although throughout his life he had a few very close and dear friends, including most notably his foreign service colleague Charles Bohlen.) It was his pen more than anything else that propelled him into the spotlight in 1946. He was truly a beautiful writer, as anyone who has read him can attest; even today the Long Telegram and the Foreign Affairs article read as masterpieces of the English language even more than they do as classic foreign policy analyses. His work as a diplomatic historian is considered exemplary by trained historians to this day; his books on the Brest-Litovsk Treaty between Germany and Russia in 1917, and on the Franco-Russian Alliance of 1894, are both considered modern classics. And his memoirs won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Nitze, on the other hand, was a buoyant, optimistic, gregarious man, socially at ease and endlessly curious about the world around him. He was not a great writer, but he was relentlessly logical, and built impervious arguments based on data and hard analysis. The only way to argue with the man was to challenge his basic assumptions; once you accepted his basic assumptions, you had to accept his tough conclusions. He was a master bureaucratic tactician, and was also able to lobby effectively in the corridors of power; that said, he did not suffer fools gladly, and made enemies throughout his lifetime. Sometimes his ego got in his way – Thompson discusses the famous episode in which, during a Senate hearing on the SALT II treaty, he admitted under questioning that he thought he was a better American than Warnke, a remark that cost him a friendship. He was also persistent to the point of irritation, and sometimes a very poor reader of situations, such as his successful antagonizing of President-elect Carter during pre-inauguration briefings on national security. He was not above pettiness, but he was intellectually honest, and admired people who thoughtfully disagreed with him. He did, however, hold some controversial views about the US-Soviet strategic balance, ones with which many in the national security community disagreed. In contrast to Kennan, he was very much a data-driven analyst and a “bean-counter,” and thought very much about the strategic balance in terms of quantifiable metrics. He was, in many ways, the “anti-Kennan.” It is remarkable that the two remained friends throughout their lives, in spite of their deep differences in perspectives. That they were is a tribute, perhaps, to a bygone era, when our foreign policy debates were conducted with a civility that was rarely if ever violated, even when the debates were at their most intense. As a footnote, I worked closely for a brief time with Nitze on the delegation to the INF talks in Geneva in the spring and summer of 1982. I found Thompson’s portrait of him exquisitely accurate, because of (or in spite of) the fact that Thompson was his grandson. Thompson paints his portrait in full color, warts and all – the Warnke episode is a good example. The little things that Thompson notes ring true; when Nitze was teasing, as he often did, or when he was up to some sort of bureaucratic mischief, he would smile and his tongue would dart out ever so slightly between his lips. When I was on the INF delegation, he would read a plenary statement drafted by a staffer and would shoot it back to the staffer with the only criticism that made sense to him: “Not logical!” And when he liked it, he would praise it by saying “It sings!” While I spent much of my professional life in foreign policy disagreeing with him, particularly about SALT II, working with him on the INF delegation was certainly one of the highlights of my own career.

  • Julian Dunn
    2018-12-27 09:59

    Nicholas Thompson’s exceptionally well-researched and reported book on Paul Nitze and George Kennan, two Cold War figures with whom I was not previously familiar, was extremely informative, clearly elucidating American foreign policy from the end of the Second World War through to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Nitze and Kennan were not the only influential forces behind America’s stances towards Korea, Russia, Vietnam and many other hotspots, but they were clearly some of the most powerful. Reading this book has been particularly timely for me, given current events and the new US government. It’s terrifying the the balance of peace over the Cold War rested upon prior administrations being far more attenuated to the delicate dance of diplomacy, and the careful parsing and construction of every turn of phrase and interpretation thereof. The historical record shows this is no acccident and that nuance and subtext do matter.Having read this book I argue that peace was never the aim for either of these gentlemen. Preserving international American hegemony was, and therefore, the walking of the fine line between careful diplomacy through negotiation and complete nuclear annihilation was acceptable for both these individuals. In spite of the title, I see both Kennan and Nitze as nearly-indistinguishable hawks. Nitze is merely the more hawkish of the two; George Kennan espoused many conservative viewpoints and policies, including deep collaboration with Henry Kissinger — an odious man — and the shenanigans of the Nixon Administration. The awarding of the 198x Nobel Peace Prize to Kennan is therefore appalling and hypocritical.However, this is a review not of Nitze and Kennan’s political positions but of Thompson’s writing. On this point I found the book somewhat lacking. While meticulously researched and reported, it lacks a strong point-of-view, and as such, Nitze and Kennan are rendered as mere caricatures, without the depth I would have expected of their documented public service achievements. One wonders if Thompson was perhaps overcompensating for the fact that, being Nitze’s grandson, he was given a special level of unprecedented access to primarily hawkish/conservative sources. Could it be that he is that he is erring on the side of impartiality, trying to render Kennan in a fair light to countermand the familial bias towards neoconservativsm? By the end, the reader has little sense of how Thompson feels about either character. Thompson carries his equivocation through to the very end, employing the classic reporter cop-out of something along the lines of “it will never be known whether the absence of Nitze and Kennan from the world would have changed the course of the Cold War towards full-blown nuclear annihilation” or something like that. It’s almost as though he is so terrified of making an insufficiently well-reasoned argument in the shadows of his (now-dead) grandfather Nitze that he fails to make an argument at all.Much has been written about the Cold War, and even about Kennan and Nitze, so obviously Thompson had a tall order to try and differentiate his book from others. He does so through what he was comfortable with: better reporting, better access to sources, and as such, better facts. Not having read any other books about the Cold War or either of these gentlemen, I cannot say that he has succeeded or failed in this attempt at differentiation. However, I generally found the book to be dry and academic. I am very well informed after reading this book, but I would hesitate to recommend it to others.

  • Jeremy
    2019-01-07 08:20

    I came across this title in the bibliography for William Lee Miller's Two Americans: Truman, Eisenhower and a Dangerous World. Having studied NSC-68 and the Long Telegram back in my college International Relations classes, this concise dual biography seemed like a great way to revisit the figures behind those seminal texts of 20th century US foreign policy.I had some trepidation on the evenhandedness of the treatment, given that the author is Paul Nitze's grandson, but this turned out to be a very balanced study of both George Kennan and Nitze. Both men have their ups and downs throughout the narrative, but that's to be expected in the lives of men who saw the Cold War from beginning to end, and then some, and put up a collective 198 years of life between them.Too often in our society of mass media, fringe-driven politics, it is nigh-on impossible to imagine how two brilliant and capable men could maintain a humbling level of professional respect and personal friendship, all while harboring such differing viewpoints on how to steer their nation through a decades-long crisis that could unleash Armageddon at the push of a button. The contrast between Kennan's and Nitze's relationship and today's America is stark. Without a monolithic enemy like the Soviet Union to unite our nationalism and patriotism (even if occasionally misguided and, at worst, dangerously irresponsible), it seems as though Americans have turned on each other, with right battling left and both set on convincing the rest of the country that their opponents conspire against the American way of life and actively sow the seeds of our nation's downfall. We no longer have to worry about falling into John Quincy Adams's trap of going abroad in search of foreign monsters to slay--we do just fine convincing our own countrymen that there are plenty of those monsters right here at home.In the end, this is a book about balance, and how vastly different visions and stratagems of diplomacy work together to not only maintain national security, but also to provide avenues for understanding and goodness.Highly recommended, and kudos to Nicholas Thompson for harnessing his impressive level of access into such a readable, timeless message.

  • Scott Pierce
    2019-01-03 14:10

    Fascinating review of the Cold War seen through the lens of 2 of the major influences on U.S. decision-making.Kennan thought we should support democracy where we had an interest and where we could make a difference - Truman doctrine too broad for him.Kennan saw containment less as military, than as economic-politicalNeither Kennan nor Nitze supported U.S. intervention on behalf of the Shah - would just end badly for us.Kennan on Vietnam - "There is more respect to be won in the opinion of this world by resolute and courageous liquidation of unsound positions than by the most stubborn pursuit of extravagent or unpromising objectives.""Kennan, the outsider, accurately foresaw how the Cold War would play out. Nitze, the insider, helped bring about the Cold War's end by behaving as if Kennan's prophecy would never come true."

  • Gordon Larsen
    2019-01-02 15:01

    I was admittedly suspicious of how deeply a duel biography could treat either subject, both of whom were central figures in the Cold War. Or how objectively the author, a grandson of Paul Nitze, could approach the philosophical differences between the two men. My suspicions were unfounded. This was a fascinating history of the Cold War through the eyes of two of it's most important thinkers and actors. It has information on Nitze not found elsewhere, based on the author's access to previously unused correspondence and records, and Thompson implies he also had better access to Kennan's friends and relatives than previous writers, based on his relationship to Nitze and the longtime friendship between the two. Thompson seems genuinely objective, not revealing whether he believes Nitze's emphasis on the importance of military superiority was more important than Kennan's original conception of containment. Rather he highlights the critical role that both played at different times, perhaps summarized best by the last lines of the book: "The two men complemented each other. Kennan's ideas and methods weren't practical and could do little to help solve day-to-day problems. He could not, for example, have been an effective arms negotiator. Nonetheless, he played a crucial role, both in framing the conflict and then serving as his nation's conscience as those horrifying weapons hypnotized the superpowers more and more. Kennan, the outsider, accurately foresaw how the Cold War would play out. Nitze, the insider, helped bring about the Cold War's end by behaving as if Kennan's prophecy would never come true."

  • Marks54
    2019-01-02 13:56

    I read this book leading up to Thanksgiving of 2009. My car was being repaired and I got to spend lots of time with the book. This is a dual biography, tracing the lives and careers of George Kennan and Paul Nitze. These two men were arguable two of the leading intellectual lights of the US Defense establishment but were on opposite ends of the intellectual spectrum, with Nitze being the more militaristic and conservative (the Hawk) and Kennan being the wise State Department old head who was reasonable and internationalist in outlook and more oriented towards diplomacy than towards war (the Dove). These men were aware of each other throughout their careers and seemed to remain on a cordial basis for decades. The book does not break much new ground on the cold war but provides a fine summary of their respective positions. While it was written by a relative of Nitze (grandson?) I got the impression that the author was very fond of both men. It paints an interesting picture of an important time. I had been aware of both men, especially Kennan, but there are few better genres to read than well done biographies and this was a really good one.

  • Danny Shelton
    2019-01-02 08:21

    Thompson sets out to find the frame for the cold war, and find it he does. Both Nitze and Kennan devoted their lives and ideologies to the preservation of America against the expansionist policies of the Soviet Union. Kennan, the dove, was rather warlike for a dove, expunging policies of covert operations and espionage world wide to keep Communism in check, and Nitze, the hawk, knew all to well the terrors of nuclear warfare because he was one of the primary researchers at Hiroshima and Nagasaki postwar, and would have preferred a demilitarized situation with neither the US or the USSR with nuclear weapons. Both were colleagues and friends for over 50 years, but their dueling philosophies dictated American policy throughout the Cold War. Thompson does an excellent job representing both sides of the argument, and his research and fact finding are excellent throughout. The most interesting point of the book is near the end, after the Cold War, when Nitze who has expunged nuclear build up at the top of his lungs for 40 years looks back and realizes that it all might have been for nothing, that Kennan in his policy of disarmament could possibly have been correct the entire time.

  • Dorian Santiago
    2018-12-27 13:15

    I really wanted to give this one four stars on account of Nicholas Thompson's candid portrayals of and personal access to Paul Nitze and George Kennan (which really helped him), his great command of diction and prose, and the evidence of his not only extensive, but exclusive research. I'm settling for three, though, because I can't hide the fact that reading about missile negotiations and most excerpts that were without these two figures read like legal jargon: important, but boring. It doesn't take away from the quality, as the book's objective is very well executed, but having read a much more detailed abook about The Cold War beforehand with more of a strongly held focus of the figures in accordance to the many events that happened at the time, my enthusiasm for the book kept waned as it went on. As a biographical piece, I think it's great. My only criticism is that it glamorized Kennan to the point where I almost mistook Thompson as his grandson and not Nitze's, but given that, the coverage of both was documented with precision.It just felt more mundane to read about the actual arms race than I thought it would. It's overall a good book, though.

  • Greg
    2019-01-18 10:09

    Beginning with "The Long Telegram" sent by George Kennan from Moscow in 1946 "The Hawk and The Dove" traces the duel and dueling careers of Paul Nitze and George Kennan. The book is not a complete history of the Cold War, but it does provide some wonderful insights from two of the periods most thoughtful contributors. Nitze, the hawk, argued through most of his career that the United States must pursue arms and stand toe to toe with the Soviets to avoid destruction. Kennan was thoroughly convinced that the Soviet Union would collapse of it's own weight,"that Soviet power bears within it the seeds of it's own decay" and that too much posturing could provoke the wounded beast into actions that need never happen if we just let nature take its course. Kennan was ultimately proved correct as the Soviet collapse came from a lack of energy and more importantly a lack of bread. Nitze was not totally wrong however as one can trace through the nuances of the times. Well written and well argued, a fine contribution to the study of the Cold War Era..

  • Peter
    2018-12-30 13:23

    This is very interesting, sweeping historical narrative done in parallel, by the grandson of Paul Nitze. At first I thought the juxtaposition was a bit contrived, but later realized it was a fascinating way of viewing the history of US-Soviet relations and more broadly, foreign policy from the pre-WWII period to the present day. It seemed to be very well researched and referenced. So much so in fact, that we really got to see the warts and foibles of both men, as well as their great strengths. I came out where I thought I would, in awe of, and rooting for the Dove, Kennan, but at the same time amazed by the sheer energy, intellect, commitment, and people and managerial skills of Nitze. I will definitely recommend this book to friends interested in the arc of US history and foreign policy in the second half of the 20th century.

  • Susan
    2019-01-08 07:19

    Paul Nitze and George Kennan are the focus of this history. The author, Nicholas Thompson is the grandson of Paul Nitze. He is an award winning author in his own right.Throughout the book I keep in mind that the author was related to one of the characters. Nicholas Thompson showed very little bias in presenting the story of these two men. His presentation was well written and professional. This is both a history of the cold war and a biography of two me who contributed so much to the foreign policy of our nation. Most people have heard of George Kennan because of his published writings. Because he worked mostly in government and behind the scenes, Paul Nitze is a revelation in this book.

  • Andy Lucas
    2018-12-30 08:20

    Enjoyed this book quite a lot. It was a very balanced and well researched story about the back and forth of two of the people who helped shape US policy during the Cold War. The thing I really liked in the story was how the two main guys, Paul Nitze and George Kennan, although they were at opposite extremes in polity (Nitze wanted more nukes as a deterrent, Kennan wanted steady disarmament as a gesture to the Russians) there was never a time when they reverted to name calling or doing anything that might jeopardize the career of the other. Through that they were friends, not very close, but friends none the less. If you are interested in US history or Cold War history, this is a really well written book. Highly recommend.

  • Keith McGowan
    2018-12-28 11:25

    Written by a grandson of Paul Nitze with access to private papers, this book provides entertaining anecdotes from the Cold War as opposed to a complete history. The narrative is a contrast between two diametrically opposed views of how the United States should relate to the Soviet Union. The hawk, Nitze, recommended a strong military and immediate responses to Soviet provocations while the dove, Kennan, suggested possibly explanations and softened replies to the same.Perhaps both were necessary to compete with the Soviets?Friends in personal life but rivals in the political arena, Nitze and Kennan offer an alternative to the bitter personal attacks we see in modern politics.

  • Maria
    2019-01-06 11:19

    Comparing the lives of Paul Nitze and George Kennan, Thompson shows how their experiences and personalities pushed and pulled them from allies to adversaries in the debate of the policies of the Cold War. Written by Nitze's grandson.Why I started this book: My brother recommended this to me. And while I knew who George Kennan was, I wasn't as familiar with Paul Nitze.Why I finished it: I tend to think of history as a series of grand overarching events that shape the lives of everyone on the planet, so it is always interesting to read biographies of how one person (in this case, two) shaped the events that shaped everyone else. Interesting book and good audio.

  • rafaela
    2019-01-03 08:58

    I really liked the book. There are wonderful anecdotes and it the focus on the perspectives of the two men is illuminating. Although both men are legend in international relations, neither was ever really satisfied in their career, feeling they had been shut out of where they should be. There is sad moment where Nitze thinks he will get a plum spot in the Carter administration only to find himself without any job at all. a great read. Watch out, though, for the occasional lapse into conspiracy theory. Thompson mentions a number of mysterious deaths that surround the making of foreign policy. It is by no means the focus of the book, or even of a given chapter, but it pops up in odd places.

  • Jim
    2019-01-13 07:22

    i wanted to hear this book. so much so though i bought another tantor recording. this makes six out of the seven i've bought that won't play. they have fantastic history books from the descriptions on the back of the cd boxes, but the cds are all junk. bought from three different half-price bookstores. i'm currently listening to (instead of this one) a fourth Great Courses series, and just finished a chris seay book and twilight zone collection, there's nothing wrong w/my cd player. just tantor brand cds.

  • Haggai
    2018-12-27 08:04

    The Hawk and the Dove is about the lives of two very interesting men, George Kennan and Paul Nitze, both of their lives being tied up closely with the history of the Cold War. It is a great example of how smart, sharp and passionate individuals can affect the history of the entire world, as well as a look into how ideological debates, academic thinking and politics all combine to form foreign policy and strategy. Recommended to anyone who wants to see what happened behind the stage of the Cold War, and anyone interested in foreign policy and diplomacy.

  • Zach
    2019-01-01 08:07

    Suprisingly readable biography of two critical figures in US national security and diplomatic policy for much of the Cold War. The author effectively combines descriptions of their personalities with their work to create an often moving story. It should be noted that for students of national security policy, this does not go into the detail and analysis of other works on national security policy, especially the many devoted to Kennan's "Containment" policy. Still, it is an excellent companion piece to these more academic books.

  • Michael
    2018-12-22 07:15

    Excellent history of the cold war, as seen through the experiences of George Kennan and Paul Nitze. The title actually does a bit of a disservice to both men, as they are much too complex to be so simply characterized. The complexities of the issues they dealt with are equally complex and the book makes for absorbing reading. The author is actually Paul Nitze's grandson, but you would never know that from reading the book. Continually fascinating - I highly recommend it.

  • Richard Agemo
    2019-01-04 07:01

    Thompson does a great job with this dual biography of Paul Nitze (the Hawk) and George Kennan (the Dove), providing two contrasting perspectives of the history of the Cold War. I believe, however, that George Kennan would strongly disagree with the author's thesis that Nitze's approach to the Soviet Union, based on the idea that the US could win an all-out nuclear war against its adversary, was "complementary" to, rather than opposed to, Kennan's theory of containment.

  • Allisonperkel
    2018-12-28 11:25

    High level coverage of the careers of Paul Nitze and George Kennan. While this is a decent coverage, it's not very deep: while it does talk about the men it really doesn't dive deep into their personas or motivations. Indeed the impact Paul Nitze had on neocon thought was almost not even mentioned. Was there anything truly new in this book? no. Was it a decent overview of two of big cold war players? Yes.

  • Tony Taylor
    2019-01-05 11:55

    This book is a dual portrait of influential Cold War advocates, Paul Nitze and George Kennan, written by Nitze's grandson. It offers an insight into their opposing stances on such topics as the arms race, diplomacy, and foreign affairs. This is a very readable book that I would recommend to anyone who has an interest in contemporary history, specifically The Cold War which ran from the end of WWII until1989 with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall.