What is history and why should we study it? Is there such a thing as historical truth? Is history a science? One of the most accomplished historians at work today, John Lewis Gaddis, answers these and other questions in this short, witty, and humane book. The Landscape of History provides a searching look at the historian's craft, as well as a strong argument for why a historical consciousness should matter to us today. Gaddis points out that while the historical method is more sophisticated than most historians realize, it doesn't require unintelligible prose to explain. Like cartographers mapping landscapes, historians represent what they can never replicate. In doing so, they combine the techniques of artists, geologists, paleontologists, and evolutionary biologists. Their approaches parallel, in intriguing ways, the new sciences of chaos, complexity, and criticality. They don't much resemble what happens in the social sciences, where the pursuit of independent variables functioning with static systems seems increasingly divorced from the world as we know it. So who's really being scientific and who isn't? This question too is one Gaddis explores, in ways that are certain to spark interdisciplinary controversy. Written in the tradition of Marc Bloch and E.H. Carr, The Landscape of History is at once an engaging introduction to the historical method for beginners, a powerful reaffirmation of it for practitioners, a startling challenge to social scientists, and an effective skewering of post-modernist claims that we can't know anything at all about the past. It will be essential reading for anyone who reads, writes, teaches, or cares about history.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

Selected by The New York Times Book Review as a Notable Book of the Year

Drawing on extensive interviews with George Kennan and exclusive access to his archives, an eminent scholar of the Cold War delivers a revelatory biography of its troubled mastermind.

In the late 1940s, George Kennan wrote two documents, the "Long Telegram" and the "X Article," which set forward the strategy of containment that would define U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union for the next four decades. This achievement alone would qualify him as the most influential American diplomat of the Cold War era. But he was also an architect of the Marshall Plan, a prizewinning historian, and would become one of the most outspoken critics of American diplomacy, politics, and culture during the last half of the twentieth century. Now the full scope of Kennan's long life and vast influence is revealed by one of today's most important Cold War scholars.

Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis began this magisterial history almost thirty years ago, interviewing Kennan frequently and gaining complete access to his voluminous diaries and other personal papers. So frank and detailed were these materials that Kennan and Gaddis agreed that the book would not appear until after Kennan's death. It was well worth the wait: the journals give this book a breathtaking candor and intimacy that match its century-long sweep.

We see Kennan's insecurity as a Midwesterner among elites at Princeton, his budding dissatisfaction with authority and the status quo, his struggles with depression, his gift for satire, and his sharp insights on the policies and people he encountered. Kennan turned these sharp analytical gifts upon himself, even to the point of regularly recording dreams. The result is a remarkably revealing view of how this greatest of Cold War strategists came to doubt his strategy and always doubted himself.

This is a landmark work of history and biography that reveals the vast influence and rich inner landscape of a life that both mirrored and shaped the century it spanned.

The Cold War ended with an exhilarating wave of events: the toppling of the Berlin Wall, the rise of the dissident poet Vaclav Havel, the revolution in Romania. Americans rejoiced at the dramatic conclusion of the long struggle. "But victories in wars--hot or cold--tend to unfocus the mind," writes John Gaddis. "It can be a dangerous thing to have achieved one's objectives, because one then has to decide what to do next." In The United States and the End of the Cold War, Gaddis provides a sharp focus on the long history of the Cold War, shedding new light on its sudden ending, as well as on what might come next. In this provocative, insightful book, Gaddis offers a number of thoughtful essays on the history of international relations during the last half century. His reassessments of important figures and themes from the Cold War are sometimes surprising. For example, he portrays John Foster Dulles and Ronald Reagan as far more flexible and perceptive statesmen than the missile-toting caricatures depicted in editorial cartoons. And he takes a second look at the importance of espionage and intelligence in Cold War history, a field often left to buffs and spy novelists. Most important, he focuses on the central elements in superpower relations. In an eloquent account of the American style of foreign policy in the twentieth century, for instance, he explores how Americans (having learned the lesson of Adolf Hitler) consistently equated the forms of foreign governments with their external behavior, assuming that authoritarian states would be aggressive states. He also analyzes the "tectonics" of Cold War history, demonstrating how long term changes in international affairs and Soviet bloc countries built up pressures that led to the sudden earthquakes of 1989. And along the way, Gaddis illuminates such topics as the role of morality in American foreign policy, the relevance of nuclear weapons to the balance of power, and the objectives of containment. He even includes (and criticizes) an essay entitled, "How the Cold War Might End," written before the dramatic events of recent years, to demonstrate how quickly the tide of history can overwhelm contemporary analysis. Gaddis concludes with a thoughtful consideration of the problems and forces at work in the post-Cold War world. Author of such works as The Long Peace and Strategies of Containment, John Lewis Gaddis is one of the leading authorities on postwar American foreign policy. In these perceptive, highly readable essays, he provides a fresh assessment of the evolution of the Cold War, and insight into the shape of things to come.
Drawing on extensive interviews with George Kennan and exclusive access to his archives, an eminent scholar of the Cold War delivers a revelatory biography of its troubled mastermind. In the late 1940s, George Kennan wrote two documents, the "Long Telegram" and the "X Article," which set forward the strategy of containment that would define US policy toward the Soviet Union for the next four decades. This achievement alone would qualify him as the most influential American diplomat of the Cold War era. But he was also an architect of the Marshall Plan, a prizewinning historian, and would become one of the most outspoken critics of American diplomacy, politics, and culture during the last half of the twentieth century. Now the full scope of Kennan's long life and vast influence is revealed by one of today's most important Cold War scholars. Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis began this magisterial history almost thirty years ago, interviewing Kennan frequently and gaining complete access to his voluminous diaries and other personal papers. So frank and detailed were these materials that Kennan and Gaddis agreed that the book would not appear until after Kennan's death. It was well worth the wait: the journals give this book a breathtaking candor and intimacy that match its century-long sweep. We see Kennan's insecurity as a Midwesterner among elites at Princeton, his budding dissatisfaction with authority and the status quo, his struggles with depression, his gift for satire, and his sharp insights on the policies and people he encountered. Kennan turned these sharp analytical gifts upon himself, even to the point of regularly recording dreams. The result is a remarkably revealing view of how this greatest of Cold War strategists came to doubt his strategy and always doubted himself. This is a landmark work of history and biography that reveals the vast influence and rich inner landscape of a life that both mirrored and shaped the century it spanned.
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