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The Kremlinologist

, 600 pages

48 b&w photos

March 2018



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The Kremlinologist

Llewellyn E Thompson, America's Man in Cold War Moscow


Against the sprawling backdrop of the Cold War, The Kremlinologist revisits some of the twentieth century's greatest conflicts as seen through the eyes of its hardest working diplomat, Llewellyn E Thompson. From the wilds of the American West to the inner sanctums of the White House and the Kremlin, Thompson became an important advisor to presidents and a key participant in major global events, including the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War. Yet unlike his contemporaries Robert S. McNamara and Dean Rusk, who considered Thompson one of the most crucial Cold War actors and the "unsung hero" of the Cuban Missile Crisis, he has not been the subject of a major biography—until now.

Thompson's daughters Jenny and Sherry Thompson skillfully and thoroughly document his life as an accomplished career diplomat. In vigorous prose, they describe how Thompson joined the Foreign Service both to feed his desire for adventure and from a deep sense of duty. They also detail the crucial role he played as a negotiator unafraid of compromise. Known in the State Department as "Mr. Tightlips," Thompson was the epitome of discretion. People from completely opposite ends of the political spectrum lauded his approach to diplomacy and claimed him as their own.

Refuting historical misinterpretations of the Berlin Crisis, the Austrian State Treaty, and the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Thompsons tell their father's fascinating story. With unprecedented access to Thompson's FBI dossier, State Department personnel files, letters, diaries, speeches, and documents, and relying on probing interviews and generous assistance from American and Russian archivists, historians, and government officials, the authors bring new material to light, including important information on the U-2, Kennan's containment policy, and Thompson's role in US covert operations machinery.

This unique and monumental biography not only restores a central figure to history, it makes the crucial events he shaped accessible to a broader readership and gives contemporary readers a backdrop for understanding the fraught United StatesRussia relationship that still exists today.

Jenny Thompson runs an English-language school in Estepona, Spain. Before she retired, Sherry Thompson was the director of a nonprofit foundation. The authors, daughters of Llewellyn E Thompson, spent eight years of their childhood in Moscow.

"The Kremlinologist is part biography, part Cold War history, and a fitting tribute by his daughters to a consequential American diplomat."

"Thompson’s is an archetypal American story that took him from the wilds of the American West at the beginning of the 20th century to inside the halls of the White House and behind the walls of the Kremlin... Thompson’s story also confirms the power of personal diplomacy, patience and cultivation of deep understanding of and empathy for the other."

"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."

"By telling the detailed personal story of Ambassador Llewellyn E Thompson, the most brilliant American master of negotiation and compromise, The Kremlinologist will help diplomats deal successfully with future crises. Highly recommended."

"A wonderful achievement; with every page, my appreciation grew. The authors succeed in commemorating the role of their father, Llewellyn Thompson, an unsung hero of the Cold War, while going beyond a simplistic portrayal of American motives and decision making in the longest confrontation of the twentieth century. Meticulously researched and infused with empathy for both sides, The Kremlinologist is a valuable contribution to Cold War scholarship."

"A remarkable, insightful picture of Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson as a person and of his role in the conduct of American diplomacy. Well researched and beautifully written, The Kremlinologist will be fascinating reading for anyone interested in foreign policy, the work of diplomats, and the history of the Cold War."

"Combining a charming family memoir with meticulous diplomatic history, Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson’s daughters’ wonderful account illuminates everything from their adventures growing up in the Moscow embassy, to Stalin’s and Khrushchev’s relations with presidents from Roosevelt to Johnson, to the Cold War’s main crises in Berlin, Cuba, and Vietnam."

"Thoroughly researched and beautifully written, The Kremlinologist is an analytically piercing biography of America’s longest serving and most influential Soviet expert, Ambassador Llewellyn E Thompson. Both an intimate portrait and an insider’s account of life in Moscow during the Cold War, it reveals new and fascinating details about the many US–Soviet crises that Thompson helped to resolve during the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations."

"In The Kremlinologist, Jenny and Sherry Thompson's masterful biography of the legendary Ambassador Llwellyn Thompson, his daughters resurrect a bygone—and sorely missed—era of American diplomacy. Exercising archival and anthropological diligence, no archive has gone unvisited, no eyewitness has not been interviewed. This book will find its deserved place as an exemplary addition to the history of twentieth-century American diplomacy."

"Llewellyn Thompson served eight U.S. presidents as a diplomat, including two stints as U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union. This rigorously documented book by his two daughters recounts his four decades as a Foreign Service officer... a valuable addition to the history of the first half of the Cold War, as well as a compelling biography of their father."

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