The odds were stacked against the two authors of “The Kremlinologist: Llewellyn E. Thompson, America’s Man in Cold War Moscow” when it came to treating their subject with anything resembling journalistic precision or objectivity. That’s primarily because they resembled their subject a little too closely -- in addition to being the book’s co-writers, Jenny and Sherry Thompson are also Llewellyn Thompson’s daughters.
No matter. As Robert Scheer puts it in this week’s episode of “Scheer Intelligence,” in which he interviews the Thompson sisters, the pair produced a “first-rate work of journalism” as they profiled their father.
Jenny and Sherry Thompson tell Scheer that their shared impulse in taking on the project was part intellectual and part emotional. The senior Thompson, who was stationed in Moscow as the U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union during two crucial stretches of the Cold War, died more than four decades ago, so the sisters were invested in his memory as well as his legacy. “We started this whole project for our families … we wanted to discover who he was,” Sherry says. “It really needed to be a proper book.”
That it is, and then some. According to Scheer, who makes note of the book’s positive reception in the diplomatic community, “The Kreminologist” ranges far beyond a professional profile of Thompson himself. In fact, Scheer says, it’s “the indispensable book to understanding the trajectory of the Cold War.” Most important, it capably debunks the lingering “fundamental fallacy” about a conflict which remains dismayingly relevant to this day.
Listen in on their discussion to find out what that central misconception is, to hear the Thompsons’ take on whether communism is best seen as a nationalist or an internationalist phenomenon, and why they think the current moment is closer to the most dangerous point in the Cold War than many Americans realize.