Mr. Kennan has long seemed a man not quite of this century, and some of this book--its reproaching of the automobile as a destroyer of community, for instance--comes across as eccentric, however charming. Yet that very distance from our current debate, along with Kennan's distinction, not to mention his modest and graceful prose, make his striking suggestions for national change all the more worth contemplating. They range from benchmarks for thought (why not a United States broken into smaller, more cohesive republics?), to long-term approaches to constitutional governance (a council of state beside the legislative and executive branches as custodian of national interests that would be above immediate political tugs), to more specific guidance (a foreign policy limited, insofar as possible, to permitting the United States to get on with internal renovation).
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