Well into his lengthy investigation of “the inner life of George F. Kennan,” Frank Costigliola quotes the observation of one of Kennan's neighbors in Princeton, New Jersey, that “it was not easy being George F. Kennan.” This biography certainly confirms the remark. Costigliola's idiosyncratic study portrays the noted diplomat and historian as “the tortured, talented, and ultimately tragic individual who helped instigate the Cold War and then worked ceaselessly to end it” (p. 25).

This biography emerges from and relies heavily on Costigliola's well-selected compilation of The Kennan Diaries, which he published in 2014. It allows him to “connect the dots” of the various diary entries that disclose what Kennan was thinking—and, more important, feeling—throughout his long life. Kennan's complex journey from his birth in Milwaukee in 1904 to his death in Princeton in 2005 provides much absorbing material for Costigliola to probe and dissect, which he does in...

You do not currently have access to this content.