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Extended Audio Sample The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War, by Nicholas Thompson Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (158 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Nicholas Thompson Narrator: Michael Prichard Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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A brilliant and revealing biography of the two most important Americans during the Cold War era, written by the grandson of one of them

Only two Americans held positions of great influence throughout the Cold War; ironically, they were the chief advocates for the opposing strategies for winning—and surviving—that harrowing conflict. Both men came to power during World War II, reached their professional peaks during the Cold War’s most frightening moments, and fought epic political battles that spanned decades. Yet despite their very different views, Paul Nitze and George Kennan dined together, attended the weddings of each other’s children, and remained good friends all their lives.

In this masterly double biography, Nicholas Thompson brings Nitze and Kennan to vivid life. Nitze—the hawk—was a consummate insider who believed that the best way to avoid a nuclear clash was to prepare to win one. More than any other American, he was responsible for the arms race. Kennan—the dove—was a diplomat turned academic whose famous “X article” persuasively argued that we should contain the Soviet Union while waiting for it to collapse from within. For forty years, he exercised more influence on foreign affairs than any other private citizen.

As he weaves a fascinating narrative that follows these two rivals and friends from the beginning of the Cold War to its end, Thompson accomplishes something remarkable: he tells the story of our nation during the most dangerous half century in history.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Thoroughly engrossing.”

    New York Times

  • “[A] nuanced account of two men whose common goal of serving America’s interests transcended perspectives.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Prichard…lifts the prose from the page to reality with his ability to enrich it with nuance and fluidity.”


  • “The book provides a more nuanced interpretation of the sometimes volatile Nitze, which serves as an important counterpoint to the better-known Kennan.”

    Library Journal

  • “A gently critical assessment of two influential shapers of U.S. foreign policy…Fascinating.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Frank Kelly | 2/18/2014

    " I've read a fair amount about the Cold War and about the personalities who led the fight. Nick Thompson (the grandson of Paul Nitze) has written a fascinating, balanced and revealing account of the intertwined lives of two of the greatest men (and minds) who fought the fight. A really well written, extremely well researched read. I highly recommend it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by rafaela | 1/22/2014

    " I really liked the book. There are wonderful anecdotes and it the focus on the perspectives of the two men is illuminating. Although both men are legend in international relations, neither was ever really satisfied in their career, feeling they had been shut out of where they should be. There is sad moment where Nitze thinks he will get a plum spot in the Carter administration only to find himself without any job at all. a great read. Watch out, though, for the occasional lapse into conspiracy theory. Thompson mentions a number of mysterious deaths that surround the making of foreign policy. It is by no means the focus of the book, or even of a given chapter, but it pops up in odd places. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by T C | 1/18/2014

    " I liked it. It's always interesting to get some insight into historical events. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jason | 12/13/2013

    " This dual political biography is an enjoyable, engaging and fascinating look at the Cold War through the parallel lives of two of its central actors. A must read for anyone interested in the Cold War, American foreign policy and 20th century American history. "

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About the Author

Nicholas Thompson is senior editor at Wired magazine, where he covers the Internet and politics, business trends, open sourcing, technology and science, and legal issues. Prior to joining Wired, he was a senior editor at Legal Affairs magazine and Washington Monthly. Thompson has also written freelance pieces about technology for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Slate, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. A frequent commentator on issues that concern law and technology, Thompson has also appeared on Live with Regis and Kelly, the Today show, The O’Reilly Factor, and many other TV and radio shows. He is a regular guest on Fox News Live and is the voice of Wired for its weekly CBS news radio broadcasts.