Sketches from a Life

Front Cover
W. W. Norton & Company, 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 384 pages
0 Reviews
Reviews aren't verified, but Google checks for and removes fake content when it's identified
Beginning with his first foreign service post in 1927 and ending seven decades later, Kennan's account is rich with the insight of a major historical participant. Whether relating the perils of Hitler's Germany or revisiting Kennan's days as ambassador to the Soviet Union, Sketches from a Life is as riveting as great literature, and one of the most invaluable documents of our time.

What people are saying - Write a review

Reviews aren't verified, but Google checks for and removes fake content when it's identified

Sketches from a life

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

As always, Kennan offers a unique perspective on history, even in the context of these memoirs. This is a collection of very private reflections spanning some 60 years of foreign service in Nazi ... Read full review

Selected pages


My first regular foreignservice post there had been a brief temporary assignment at Geneva that preceded it was at Hamburg where I served as viceco...
In the winter of 1928 persuaded by experiences at Hamburg that my education was incomplete I returned to Washington with the idea of resigning fr...
We have moved at this point to Riga the capital of what was in those years the independent country of Latvia
From the summer of 1929 to that of 1931 while still a foreign service officer on active duty I was in Berlin studying Russian subjects at the Seminary...
Upon completion of the two years of Russian studies in Berlin in the summer of 1931 I went to Norway in September and married my present wife A...
From mid1937 to mid1938 I served in the State Department in Washington
From September 29 1938 the day of the Munich Conference until the outbreak of war in Europe one year later I was stationed at Prague as second se...
The following letter to my sister was written from Prague during a brief official visit to that city in 1940 during the war when I was stationed in Berlin
Berlin again fifteen years after the war
Journey from Norway via Hamburg and Innsbruck to Venice for an international conference marking the fiftieth anniversity of the death of Leo Tol...
In July 1964 upon returning to Norway after several weeks of lecturing in Japan I went to a place on the Norwegian west coast to take possession of ...
By invitation of the History Department of Ripon College I visited that institution in the winter of 1965 to deliver one public lecture and to conduct d...
The diaries contain a number of accounts of cruises in our own boat in Scandinavian waters
The purpose of this expedition was to take the NAGAWICKA over to Skagen in Denmark and deliver her into the hands of four youthsChristopher a...
On the third of three visits to Africa in the years 196770 I visited among other places South West Africa and particularly the northernmost province ...
There follow two pieces about Leningrad widely separated in time of writing

The following is another passage from the documents published in FROM PRAGUE AFTER MUNICH but this one in apposition to the entry for earl...
I had few opportunities to see anything of Nazi Germany in the years from 1933 down to 1939
At the time of the outbreak of war in 1939 I was transferred from Prague to the embassy at Berlin where I served as administrative officer until the ad...
The German armies that swept over the Low Countries and northern France in June 1940 overran the American embassies in the capitals of the respe...
There follows an excerpt from a letter written to my wife from Berlin shortly before Pearl Harbor and my own internment by the Germans
In 1944 having served in 1942 and 1943 in Portugal and then in early 1944 in London I was reassigned as Averell Harri man r deputy in Moscow T...
Back in Moscow I resumed as far as I could my old habit of quiet expeditions into the countryside on Sundays and holidays
In June 1945 the Soviet authorities permitted me then still serving as the number two at the American embassy in Moscow to visit the leading city of ...
There follow excerpts from the account of a journey from Moscow to Helsinki in September 1945 only shortly after the cessation of hostility in the E...
I spent the years from mid1946 to mid1950 in Washington first at the National War College then as director of the Policy Planning Staff in the Depar...
Scribblings on an airplane approaching the coast of England at night en route from Germany to Washington
In February 1950 no longer director of the Policy Planning Staff but now counselor of the State Department I was sent on another and last official jo...
My career as a foreignservice officer may be considered to have ended although there were to be two periods of ambassadorial service in later years i...
In the summer of 1951 the Kennan family made the first of many postwar trips to Kristiansand Norway where my parentsinlaw then still alive resided...
Liberated in 1950 from my official duties in government I naively thought there would now be time for everything and I accepted commitments in ...
Governmental service in periods and places where great political tension prevailed was not conducive to the sort of leisurely and detached diarykeepi...
As related in my memoirs the sad months of ambassadorial service in Moscow in 1952 ending with my expulsion from that country were followed b...
The farm was the gathering place for the family and remains so to this day
my mother who had died two months after my own birth and of whom I had no recollection and my father who had died while I was accompanying ...
Ray a villager and former truck driver bad for years been an enthusiastic caretaker and invariably a cheerful pleasant companion on my Pennsylvani...
California again this time for research at the Hoover Library in Palo Alto
Milwaukee and St Louis
Accompanied by my wife and the two youngest children I spent the academic year 195758 in Oxford as Eastman Professor at Balliol College
During the Christmas vacation totally exhausted from the strenuous autumn in Oxford I was hospitalized briefly in Zurich
An afternoons excursion in Denmark
Passage by liner from Southampton to Le Havre en route to Hamburg
En route by train through Jutland Denmark to Hamburg
Written in Rheinfelden a town on the Swiss side of the Rhein not far from Basel where I was attending an academic conference
In October 1959 I returned briefly to Oxford for an academic conference
The following are excerpts from the piece entitled Reflections published in THE NEW YORKER in 1974 issue for April 29 recording some of my im...
I accepted in 1976 an invitation to join a cruise ship scheduled to visit the Black Sea in the autumn of that year and to lecture to the other passengers ...
Air passage New York to Kristiansand Norway
In early July 1977 Annelise and I in company with two good friends who were also coowners of the NORTHWIND our new sailing vessel set out fro...
Four glimpses of life on the south coast of Norway in the 1970s
The NORTHWIND having been in Stockholm over the winter of 197778 my wife and I together with her brother Einar went to Stockholm in June 1...
Seeing a daughter and soninlaw off at the Kristiansand airport
Lecture at the Air Force Academy Colorado Springs
Commencement at a large American university
On a cold winter day in 1979 Annelise and I received news that one of the three daughters of the farmer at our Pennsylvania farm Shelley by name h...
On October 1 1980 I delivered the principal address at the Second World Congress for Soviet and East European Studies held in Garmisch Germany
In October 1980 invited to visit China and to meet with scholars and officials there I set off accompanied by my wife on what was to be my first jour...
Excerpts from the account of a days excursion to Agra India
This my first and only visit to China arranged and scheduled by the Chinese authorities was conducted with the help and kindly attention of a highly ...
Russia again as a guest of their Institute for the USA and Canada
Accompanied by an American touristfriend here referred to as Stephanie and by a kind gentleman from the American consulate general in Leningrad...
In the late 1970s and early 1980s historical research for two volumes of European diplomatic history required occasional protracted spells of work in...
The official personality was as it seems always the enemy of the personal one so that the years as ambassador to Belgrade 1961 63 were devoid of suc...
The Pennsylvania farm in these latter years of the 1980s has passed into the possession of a daughterone who loved it as I had
Days in Florida where Annelise and I were guests of a kind charming and very generous friend
In the spring of 1984 I went to Moscow to chair a meeting of Soviet and American professors assembled there to discuss RussianAmerican relations a...
There were in the autumn of 1984 visits to friends living respectively in the neighboring Italian islands of Iscbia and Capri where I had never previo...
Farewell to Paris
A day cruising on the west coast of Norway
In March 1987 Annelise and I accompanied by our nextdoor neighbor Mary Keating paid a visit to Morocco where befriended by Mary Ir son Dick ...
In June 19871 went to Moscow to chair the American delegation at a conference of Soviet and American historians assembled there for the purpose ...

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2000)

George F. Kennan, February 16, 1904 - March 17, 2005 George Kennan was born Feb. 16, 1904, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He attended Saint John's Military Academy and then Princeton University, graduating in 1926 and entering the diplomatic corps. He travelled to Genoa in 1927, and in 1929 was assigned as third secretary attached to all of the Baltic Republics. In 1933, he went to Moscow with Ambassador William Bullitt, where he remained until 1937. He then spent a year in the U. S., a year in Prague, and then went to the U. S. Embassy in Berlin where he helped to develop a peace settlement. Kennan was in Berlin when Nazi Germany declared war on the U. S., and was interned for several months, before finally returning to the States in May of 1942. During the war, he represented the U. S. in Portugal, and was part of the delegation to the European Advisory Commission. In 1944 he returned to the embassy in Moscow. In April 1947, after returning to the States, Kennan became chairman of the Policy Planning Staff at the State Department. It was there that he penned an anonymous article, titled "The Sources of Soviet Conduct" but better known as the "X article", in the July 1947 Foreign Affairs, which advocated a containment policy. He is considered to have been the "architect" of the Cold War. Kennan was appointed Ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1952, but was recalled in October after a diplomatic incident in Berlin where he compared the Soviet Union to Nazi Germany. Kennan retired from the Foreign Service in 1953, and joined the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he remained until retirement. During that time he also served as Ambassador to the USSR and to Yugoslavia for a short time. Kennan has continued to write and lecture on foreign policy and the Soviet Union into the '90s. In 1981 he was awarded the Albert Einstein Peace Prize for his efforts to improve U.S.-Soviet relations. He also won the Pulitzer Prize twice, initially in 1957 for Russia Leaves the War: Soviet-American Relations, 1917-192O, and then again in 1968 for Memoirs. At age 85, he received the Medal of Freedom. George F. Kennan died on March 17, 2005 at the age of 101.

Bibliographic information