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Around the Cragged Hill: A Personal and Political Philosophy.

George Kennan went to Moscow in 1933 as a member of the first official U.S. diplomatic mission to the Soviet Union, and subsequently served as U.S. ambassador there. In 1946, writing as "Mr. X," he set out the doctrine of "containment" that became the guiding principle of the Cold War. He headed the State Department's first Policy Planning Staff and advised Secretaries of State George Marshall and Dean Acheson. He has, in other words, a great deal to answer for. The dozen or so books he has written in the last four decades constitute a perpetually interesting history of and commentary on U.S. diplomacy from the viewpoint of a deeply conservative but also thoughtful and incorruptible observer. In Around the Cragged Hill, Kennan tells us more about his personal views on topics ranging from sex ("one of the most tedious, monotonous, at times ridiculous, and least interesting of human proclivities") to segregation ("People should be allowed to do what comes naturally"). He mourns the passing of household servants, celebrates elitism, and deplores the inconveniences of democracy. He reveals himself as an arrogant, snobbish, supremely self-confident gentleman of the old school--so civilized, so wrong about so many things, so articulate and even entertaining in presenting his quaint views.
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Publication:The Progressive
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Apr 1, 1993
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