First, let me just say that in my opinion I would not recommend this book to anybody who has very little knowledge of World War 2 or the Cold War. The author, Mr. Thompson, takes it for granted that one would not probably pick up this book unless you did have that knowledge, and he is probably right.
Secondly, for anybody knowledgeable about the Cold War and World War 2 I would definitely recommend this book.
“The Hawk,” Mr. Paul Nitz and “The Dove,” Mr. George Kennan,” both had great influence on Cold War policies, and Mr. Kennan, while working in the U.S. embassy in Moscow right after World War 2 ended, wrote the famous “X article,” that in many ways predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union and the policy of containment that the U.S. would practice throughout the next fifty years. As years progressed, he became very much a dove in the sense that he believed the race for an advantage in nuclear weapons between the Soviet Union and the U.S. was very dangerous and could mean the end of civilization. He also at times believed that the U.S. should stop building such weapons, and that eventually the Soviet Union would not think of us as an adversary and so not fear a first strike by the U.S.
Mr. Nitze felt just the opposite, and felt that the U.S. should only negotiate an arms treaty if both sides eliminated nuclear weapons based on their weight, not on their speed and actual damage they could cause. Mr. Nitze was at the negotiation table when the Reagan administration and Mr. Gorbachev signed the first comprehensive treaty on the elimination of many nuclear weapons in Europe and Russia. Mr. Nitze could say that his strong stance, along with many others, eventually caused the collapse of the Soviet Union; and yet it was Mr. Kennan’s article “X” that predicted the collapse and laid the groundwork for the policy of containment that was a footprint that the U.S used for over fifty years.
Both Mr. Nitze and Mr. Kennan were born in the early 1900’s and died in the early 2000’s. Their influence and stamp on U.S. policy is undeniable. Yet, in my opinion, I am thankful that neither had the FINAL WORD on any policies or treaties that the U.S. followed or signed during the Cold War.