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Memoirs 1925-1950 by George F. Kennan (215,000 words)

George F. Kennan’s second volume of memoirs is
Memoirs 1950-1963.

Winner of the
Pulitzer Prize for Biography and of the National Book Award for History and Biography in 1968, this is the personal and professional record of one of America’s most distinguished diplomats. An intimate and thought-provoking account of diplomatic history, it may be the “single most valuable political book written by an American in the twentieth century.” (The New Republic).


“[A] remarkably candid, beautifully written and utterly fascinating intellectual career autobiography of a distinguished diplomat and scholar... This is, in short, major history, and here augmented by selections from the author’s journal and his policy memorandums. It gives an intimate view of how policy, particularly that pertaining to Soviet-American affairs, was fashioned, influenced, criticized and implemented... through it all emerges the portrait of a brilliant man of keen observation, depth of knowledge and strong opinion.” — Eliot Fremont-Smith,
The New York Times

“[A] historically invaluable, often mercilessly candid ‘intellectual autobiography.’” — Murrey Marder,
The Washington Post

“These memoirs are expertly written, often fascinating... this is an important book, both as diplomatic history and as intellectual biography... Kennan is perhaps the most impressive figure ever to have emerged from the shadowy labyrinth of the American diplomatic establishment.” — Ronald Steel,
The New York Review of Books

“From these pages there emerge both the sensitive, introspective, compassionate human being and the sometimes frustrated diplomat. Ranging from his observations of the German occupation of Prague to the genesis of the ‘X’ article in Foreign Affairs and the problems of the postwar world, these vignettes from the author’s diaries are skillfully linked into a consecutive story of lasting historical importance.” — John G. Stoessinger,
Foreign Affairs

“[A] major contribution to the diplomatic history of our time.” — Dimitri von Mohrenschildt,
The Russian Review

“This widely acclaimed volume — recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award — can be read as the first installment in the autobiography of an eminent historian; as the intellectual odyssey of a sensitive student of international relations; as an instructive portrait of a professional diplomat, alienated from society and impatient with domestic pressures; as a contribution to the historiography of the cold war; and as a commentary on decision making in recent American foreign policy. It is immensely useful in each area and, like all of Kennan’s works, beautifully written.” — Richard W. Leopold,
The American Historical Review

“George Kennan’s
Memoirs: 1925-1950 may well become a standard by which future American diplomatic autobiographies will be judged — a standard difficult to emulate... [an] immensely interesting book... This biography paints a panorama of unusual personal dimensions.” — Paul Seabury, Slavic Review

“Kennan was an enormously healthy and stimulating influence in our diplomatic establishment, and his
Memoirs provide a provocative analysis of the intellectual, political, and military thinking that went into the evolution of our attitudes and policies for some twenty-five years.” — Smith Simpson, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

“George Kennan, who already has a substantial reputation as a professional diplomat and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, has now ensured his place in history with this volume of
Memoirs.” — Robert A. Divine, The Journal of Southern History

“[Kennan’s] lucid, elegant, scrupulous, even finicky account of his career is an excellent way to understand exactly how our foreign policy is shaped and why it ought to be shaped differently. His ambition is to alter the conduct of American foreign policy by influencing the climate of opinion and thereby those who will formulate that policy.” — George P. Elliott,
The Hudson Review

“[Kennan] focuses on essentials and illuminates them; in so doing his sense of the drama of events merges with the drama of self. His literary style, genuine and full, carries well the weight of complex considerations. His sense of responsibility in public service — for the public good as he sees it — shines out truly and clearly. What a good man, what an attractive man, what an instructive and elevating commentator!” — Herbert Feis,
The Virginia Quarterly Review

“George Kennan’s lantern illuminates the world; it shines like a beacon in an era of militarist adventure and ‘personalized’ foreign policy.” — Harrison E. Salisbury,
Saturday Review