It was George Kennan who promulgated the containment policy. In his famous long telegram from Moscow, he guessed at Soviet intentions and urged that the U.S. had to contain the USSR. In his perceptive and intriguing book, the very young Nicholas Thompson offers a joint biography of Kennan and Paul Nitze, who opposed Kennan’s position of waiting patiently until the USSR imploded. He advocated a strong military buildup, although, in truth, he was very cautious about deploying the weapons. Both men came from the same upper class background and Ivy League schools. Both served in important civilian positions during World War II and both believed deeply in public service. Kennan had served in the Embassy in the Soviet Union and was able to hold opposing views about our one-time ally. Nitze seemed to see the situation as either/or – either the Soviets were our friends or they were our enemies. Thompson does an admirable job of crafting a vast trove of material into a readable history. It is still not clear whether the military build-up prolonged the Cold War with a paranoid foe or contributed to its fall.
Matthew Crawford began to question his satisfaction as a “knowledge worker,” and opened a motorcycle repair shop in Richmond. Shop Class as Soulcraft is an absorbing personal labor-history-cum-memoir, a philosophical treatise on the essence of work, and an analysis of America’s economic and vocational future, reminiscent of the classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Following Crawford through the mental and mechanical process of a manual trade will order, link, and electrify many of the vague discontents and notions you might have about the nature and quality of work and a good life in our times. This is an especially thought-provoking choice for college students or recent graduates.
Douglas Brinkley brings the double expertise of an academic and a journalist to this masterful account of President Theodore Roosevelt’s crusade for preserving the great forests along with their birds and other wildlife. Although he was an enthusiastic big-game hunter, Roosevelt’s alliance with visionary naturalists led him to launch the modern conservationist movement, which sought to establish bison, elk, and antelope preserves as well as numerous bird refuges. As an outspoken advocate for the environment, Roosevelt continued his crusade well into retirement, railing against those who wantonly turn America’s rivers into sewers, pollute the air, and destroy the forests.