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Professor David Foglesong review for H-Diplo

for H-Diplo

Foglesong on Thompson and Thompson, 'The Kremlinologist: Llewellyn E. Thompson, America's Man in Cold War Moscow'
Author: Jenny Thompson, Sherry Thompson
Reviewer: David S. Foglesong

 

Old School Wise Men

 

This magnificent book, handsomely produced by the publisher, is a pleasure to read. Jenny Thompson and Sherry Thompson have skillfully interwoven memories from their childhood experiences in Russia, their mother's unpublished memoirs, other family papers, interviews with American diplomats, extensive research in published and unpublished documents, and wide range of scholarly studies to create a thorough and insightful examination of the long diplomatic career of their extraordinarily discreet and self-effacing father.

 

Although Llewellyn ("Tommy") Thompson is much less well known than his contemporaries George F. Kennan and Charles Bohlen, he played important roles in American-Soviet relations from January 1941, when he first traveled to the Soviet Union as second secretary of the US Embassy, to his participation in the negotiation of the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) before his death in 1972. When German forces threatened to capture Moscow in the fall of 1941, Thompson bravely volunteered to stay in the capital to manage the US Embassy after most of the staff evacuated to Kuybyshev on the Volga River. Engagement with Soviet citizens in the relatively relaxed years of the wartime alliance led Thompson to see the potential importance of cultural diplomacy and people-to-people contacts, which he would champion in subsequent decades as ways for Americans and Soviets to dispel misconceptions about each other.

 

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