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Around the Cragged Hill


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George F. Kennan was America's most acclaimed Cold War diplomat as well as a prize-winning historian and author.


Kennan airs controversial opinions in this book of personal and political reflections. Deeming the U.S. to be severely overpopulated, he dreams of a decentralized America broken into 12 constituent republics. He opposes ``forced desegregation'' of schools and urges U.S. leaders to adopt a modest foreign policy with a minimum of external involvement and large cutbacks in foreign aid. The goal, he stresses, should be to get our own house in order. ``We are a nation of bad social habits,'' he chides, citing the national addictions to television, the automobile and junk mail. To tap the wisdom of the citizenry, the eminent scholar-statesman (author of 18 books; former ambassador to the Soviet Union) calls for the creation of a Council of State, an advisory body to the federal government that would address public-policy issues. He also sets forth his thoughts on what he calls ``the demonic side of human nature,'' defined as our instinctive compulsion to sexual activity and the ego's endless search for reassurance. (Jan.)

The guiding intellect behind the postwar policy of containment and author of a dozen books, Kennan has figured prominently in foreign policy debates since World War II. In this tightly written and somber book, he reflects on the state of his country and what needs to be done. His thoughts are wide-ranging, covering American government, political ideology, and faith. In the second part of his book, Kennan addresses both domestic and foreign policy concerns. His most novel suggestion calls for the creation of a permanent advisory body, which he calls the Council of State, consisting of citizens with various talents who would serve as a sounding board for policy debates. This is not easy reading, but it is essential for those seeking to better understand the enigma that is is George Kennan. Recommended for academic collec tions.-- Ed Goedeken, Purdue Univ. Libs., West Lafayette, Ind.

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