Renowned Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis just won a Pulitzer Prize for his new biography on George F. Kennan, a leading figure during the Cold War. Kennan was known as “the father of containment,” a U.S. policy aimed at preventing the spread of communism. We talk with Gaddis about writing the authorized biography, and about Kennan’s political legacy today.

John Lewis Gaddis, professor of history at Yale University, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "George F. Kennan: An American Life" and author of other books including "The Long Peace: Inquiries into the History of the Cold War" and "We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History"

  • HUAC

    Why did Prof. Gaddis subtitle his book on Kennan “an American life?” It seems to me that Kennan (like Kissinger) was hardly that–he was Eurpoean in thinking and in the policies he shaped and it seems to me he was most at home outside the USA. So why an American life?–Will in S.F.

  • Tim Doyle

    I took a history course on Kennan. He sounded like an Icon. 

  • Paul

    Wasn’t he a strong critic of democracy?

  • Eric

    About 20 years ago I read an article about Mr. Kennan in which he expressed some reactionary (and frankly racist) opinions, such as “I have a soft spot for South Africa’s apartheid system.”  Did he ever revise any of those views near the end of his life?

    • Racist, but safer and with higher employment.  It would be nice to have both a respectful government and favorable employment and safety.  As it stands South Africa is measurable worse off than before.

  • Chrisco

    While Kennan was a leading figure in the foreign policy of the US establishment, did he have views of Noam Chomsky’s critiques, some of which Kennan may have adopted in his later years, regarding Iraq for example?

  • Greg

    Spencer sounds as clunky as Frankenstein.

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