George W. Liebmann

Home George W. Liebmann
An Understandable Curiosity
Post

An Understandable Curiosity

This is a massive biography of an economic historian whose popular fame rests on his having been made one of 65 Companions of Honour by the Queen while remaining a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. It suffers from many of the difficulties encountered by biographers of men of thought.  Like William Howard...

France in Asia, and at Home
Post

France in Asia, and at Home

These books on postwar French history are meritorious and complementary.  Professor Logevall’s effort is a careful military and political history of the French Indo-Chinese war, including three chapters on its aftermath.  Mr. Fenby’s readable biography discusses the major events in De Gaulle’s life and supplies a good introduction to it for the uninitiated. Both books...

An Observer of Men
Post

An Observer of Men

This selection from around 65,000 pieces of correspondence, edited by Learned Hand’s granddaughter, a professor emerita of English at the Claremont Graduate School, could not have been better done.  Both Hand’s letters and the letters of his correspondents are included; some of the most notable exchanges are with Bernard Berenson, Philip Littell, Walter Lippmann, and...

Diplomacy Good and Bad
Post

Diplomacy Good and Bad

These two volumes shed considerable light on the fateful events of 1945-46, events determinative of much that followed in American foreign relations.  The first argues that, had Franklin Roosevelt lived, even if for only another year, postwar history would have been altogether different.  The second, by an experienced “realist” foreign-service officer, views the postwar developments...

A Study in Courage
Post

A Study in Courage

As one who dislikes “psycho-biography” as a genre, I was fully prepared to dislike this dual biography of Rebecca West and Dorothy Thompson.  I was somewhat disarmed by the author’s Introduction, in which she attributes to West the observation that it was impossible for biographers to know anything beyond the bare facts about the details...

George F. Kennan: The Official Lie
Post

George F. Kennan: The Official Lie

This authorized biography of American statesman George Kennan has been 30 years in the writing, its publication being deferred until after Kennan’s death in 2004.  The writer was the first to be given full access to Kennan’s voluminous unpublished diaries.  Thus, the book devotes many pages to an exploration of Kennan’s inner life, at the...

Limited Hangout
Post

Limited Hangout

Donald Rumsfeld has produced, four years after his departure from government, a memoir of no stylistic distinction.  It contains few if any interesting revelations, save, perhaps, those relating to President Nixon’s choice of vice presidents.  For what it does contain, it is at least twice as long as it should be.  There is a great...

A Unifier at Number Ten
Post

A Unifier at Number Ten

This is a state-of-the-art British political biography.  D.A. Thorpe has written biographies of Home, Eden, and Sel­wyn Lloyd, as well as shorter studies of Lord Curzon, “Rab” Butler, and Austen Chamberlain.  His knowledge of the principal political actors, particularly on the Conservative side, is prodigious; he convincingly claims to have interviewed “all the prime ministers...

An American Prophet
Post

An American Prophet

“A prophet is not without honor, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” —Mark 4:4 A half-dozen biographical essays or theses have now been written on George Kennan, including John Lukacs’s recent and compelling George Kennan: A Study of Character (2007).  This latest endeavor, by Lee Congdon, is...