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Llewellyn "Tommy" Thompson, The Cold War Owl

Against the sprawling backdrop of the Cold War, The Kremlinologist revisits some of the twentieth century's greatest conflicts as seen through the eyes of its hardest working diplomat, Llewellyn E Thompson. From the wilds of the American West to the inner sanctums of the White House and the Kremlin, Thompson became an important advisor to presidents and a key participant in major global events, including the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War. Yet unlike his contemporaries Robert S. McNamara and Dean Rusk, who considered Thompson one of the most crucial Cold War actors and the “unsung hero” of the Cuban Missile Crisis, he has not been the subject of a major biography—until now.

Refuting historical misinterpretations of the Berlin Crisis, the Austrian State Treaty, and the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Thompsons tell their father’s fascinating story. In vigorous prose, they describe how Thompson joined the Foreign Service both to feed his desire for adventure and from a deep sense of duty. Known in the State Department as “Mr. Tightlips,” Thompson was the epitome of discretion. People from completely opposite ends of the political spectrum lauded his approach to diplomacy and claimed him as their own.

This unique biography makes the crucial events he shaped accessible to a broader readership and gives contemporary readers a backdrop for understanding the fraught United States−Russia relationship that still exists today.

The Root From Issyk-Kul Revisited
It couldn't save Tommy, but it probably helped Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn cure his own cancer.





ONE DAY IN 1970, when I was at the National Cancer Institute, Llewellyn "Tommy" Thompson, the highly regarded former ambassador to the Soviet Union, walked into my office with his wife, Jane, who was holding two paper bags. Each contained a bottle of 80-proof vodka. Before I could ask why they had brought them, they dumped a pile of dirty roots on my desk and made a most unusual request. They asked if I could combine the roots with the vodka to make a drug that would treat Tommy's pancreatic cancer. "One of the bottles of vodka is to make the medication," she said. "The other one is for you."


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