John Lukacs's biography of George Kennan receives a generally positive review from James Traub. Not that Lukacs's portrait of the arch-realist is all that attractive:
He is honest about Kennan’s defects of thought; and yet he seems unwilling fully to accept what they imply about the man’s nature. Kennan made no secret of his low regard for the wisdom of the common man, and thus for the practice of a so-called democratic, as opposed to a professional, foreign policy. But Lukacs also notes that in the late ’30s — as Hitler’s Germany rose to power — Kennan began writing a book proposing that America adopt a more authoritarian model of government in which both immigration and suffrage would be curtailed. Kennan could not bring himself to despise Germany before, during or after the war. He was, on the other hand, "enraged" by Washington’s clumsy attempt to acquire bases in the Azores.
The predicament of ordinary people seems not to have moved him much. Lukacs quotes Kennan’s own memoirs to the effect that when the Wehrmacht marched into Prague, Kennan, then serving as a high-ranking diplomat, turned away the desperate Americans, "including a Jewish acquaintance," who came to the American legation. Lukacs characterizes this nonchalance as "cold," not "callous". Is there a difference?
For the landmark CNN documentary series on the Cold War in the 1990s, convincing Kennan to sit for a television interview was no easy task—he never owned a television and reviled the medium and its impact on American society.