Gregory WallanceFeb 8, 2024
George Kennan's Epic Journey Through the Brutal, Frozen Heart of Russia
St. Martin's Press 2023
It’s perhaps one of history’s funny accidents that relations between the U.S. and Russia were changed not by one, but two, George Kennans. Decades before George F. Kennan wrote his famous Long Telegram that set the tone for the Cold War, his predecessor was exploring Russia’s Far East on a quest to investigate the then-Russian Empire’s practice of exiling political prisoners to Siberia.
What Kennan saw on his journey shook him to his very core, forcing him to question his respect for the Russian Empire. And as writer Gregory Wallance explains in his book Into Siberia: George Kennan’s Epic Journey Through the Brutal, Frozen Heart of Russia (St. Martin's Press, 2023), Kennan’s advocacy upon his return turned U.S. views from Russia away from being a faraway friend to something far more skeptical.
Gregory Wallance is a lawyer and writer in New York City. He is the author of Papa's Game (Ballantine Books: 1982) which received a nonfiction nomination for an Edgar Allan Poe Award; America's Soul In the Balance: The Holocaust, FDR's State Department, And The Moral Disgrace Of An American Aristocracy (Greenleaf Book Group: 2012), The Woman Who Fought an Empire: Sarah Aaronsohn and Her Nili Spy Ring (Potomac Books: 2018), and the historical novel Two Men Before the Storm: Arba Crane's Recollection of Dred Scott And the Supreme Court Case That Started the Civil War (Greenleaf Book Group: 2015). He is currently an opinion contributor for The Hill.
Today, Gregory and I talk about Kennan, his many trips to Siberia, and the effect his journalism had on American views of Russia.
Nicholas Gordon is an editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at@nickrigordon