SKETCHES FROM A LIFE by George F. Kennan


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Kennan, one of the "six wise men" who helped shape the postwar world, author of The Cloud of Danger, The Nuclear Delusion, and 14 others, demonstrates in this selection of journal entries dining as far back as six decades the breadth of his wisdom in foreign policy and other matters. These diary entries--Kennan's "private luxury. . .a digression. . .from daily life in general"--span such topics as the author's thoughts upon hearing tire young Horowitz in recital in 1927: "When he played. . .it seemed as though he himself were being played upon by some unseen musician--as though every note were being wrung out of him": on reading Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks, which prompts him to rue how "life is too full in these times to be comprehensible. . .arrivals and departures are no longer matters for emotional debauches they are too common"; or on the proclivity of Russian grandeur and imagination to start some "fantastic colossus of a project, build part of it hastily and with bad materials, never finish it, and then leave the beginnings to rot away or be used for other utterly incongrous purposes." Kennan also writes poignantly of the disintegration of European civilization and of the brutal pace of change: "A man's life. . .is too long a span today for the pace of change. If he lives more than a half century, his familiar world, the world of his youth, tails him like a horse dying under its rider. . .We older people are the guests of this age, permitted to haunt its strange and somewhat terrifying halls. . ." Kennan has written more influential books, but never one more personably captivating. with insight on every page.

Pub Date: May 22nd, 1989
ISBN: 394-57504-0
Publisher: Pantheon
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