Llewellyn E. “Tommy” Thompson Jr., hardly a household name, deserves to be better known than he is. At various moments he may well have made the difference in preventing the Cold War from turning hot. Most notably, he helped manage the crises over Berlin and Cuba. He also assisted in arranging for the withdrawal of Allied occupation forces from Austria. He twice served as U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War and, in between, served in Washington as an adviser on Soviet affairs under Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.
“The Kremlinologist” is the first book-length biography of Thompson (1904-72). Neither Jenny nor Sherry Thompson, his daughters, is a professional historian, but they have closely researched official records and secondary sources and interviewed experts and eyewitnesses, and they draw on personal anecdotes that illuminate the family life of this formidable diplomat. The result is a readable portrait of a man whose behind-the-scenes role in major events is easy to overlook.
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