Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Jenny Thompson and Sherry Thompson's "The Kremlinologist"

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.

Here the Thompsons share their dream cast and director for a mini-series based on their new book, The Kremlinologist: America's Man in Cold War Moscow, and sketch capsule summaries of each episode:
This book is not for everybody. Don’t pick it up unless you want to know what happened during the last Cold War. It’s not a tell-all or a thriller. But if it were to be on-screen, it would make a great mini-series because each part is a complete story in itself.

Main characters:
Llewellyn E Thompson played by Jimmie Stewart, Jane Thompson, played by Natalie Wood. Director: George Clooney.

Episode One The start of the 20th Century in the wilds of the American West. Ranch hands fend off murderous banditos in a boom and bust environment as Thompson finds his way to the University of Colorado, and, determined to find adventure, joins the newly created Foreign Service, is posted to Ceylon while the dustbowl hits back home, then finds education in Geneva.

Episode Two February 1941 Vladivostok as Thompson boards the Trans-Siberian for Moscow. There he remains as the government and diplomatic corps evacuates 800k away. Stalin and Molotov also stay behind, leaving young Thompson as intermediary between Stalin and Roosevelt while the Battle of Moscow rages.

Episode Three Post-war conferences, the start of the U.N., the beginnings of Covert operations and Containment policy. Thompson meets the love of his life on board ship and she agrees to marry by the time the ship docks.

Episode Four Thompson and family deplanes in Vienna for his first post as chief of mission. He puts his career on the line in State Treaty negotiations with a last minute bluff to prevent re-occupation of Austria. He also is secretly in London for months negotiating the near impossible settlement of Trieste. A disgruntled Tito and a hysterical Clare Booth Luce make waves every time an agreement is almost reached over the “rock pile.”

Episode Five Khrushchev’s enters stage at the Geneva Conference. Jane helps desperate Hungarian refugees as they cross the marshes at the border using reeds as snorkels.

Episode Six Thompson family arrives in Moscow with Thompson as ambassador. He develops an unusual relationship with Khrushchev; makes the first appearance by a US official on Soviet TV; the Berlin crisis; the Kitchen debate with Nixon; Khrushchev’s trip around the US and Camp David; the start of détente; the U-2 spy plane and the end of détente.

Episode Seven Hopes for détente rise with the young president Kennedy, then fall with the Bay of Pigs. Thompson and the Vienna Summit between Kennedy and Khrushchev; The Berlin crisis reignites. Thompson’s unusual visit to Khrushchev’s private dacha and his last, strange and prescient meeting with Khrushchev.

Episode Eight Thompson returns to the US the autumn of 1962 just before the Cuban Missile Crisis breaks. His intense time on Kennedy’s Ex Com at the brink of nuclear war.

Episode Nine Thompson and the Limited Test Ban negotiations; Kennedy’s American University speech; JFK’s assassination. Johnson keeps Thompson on and widens his role. Draws him into secret 303 committee meetings; brings him into the Vietnam issue.

Episode Ten Thompson’s last-minute breakthrough on disarmament talks. McNamara works behind his back to send him back to Moscow as Ambassador.

Episode Eleven A reluctant Thompson returns to Moscow with instructions to use Moscow to bring North Vietnam to the peace table. Six Day War. Thompson named to head disarmament talks. Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia kills talks. Ends with Thompson women leaving for US on board ship.

Episode Twelve starts with Thompson and Chip Bohlen’s retirement speeches days before Nixon’s inauguration. Nixon brings Thompson out of retirement for the SALT talks. Diagnosed with cancer. Thompson’s wife arranges to have famous musician smuggle Solzhenitsyn cancer cure out of Moscow, but it arrives too late.
Learn more about The Kremlinologist at the Johns Hopkins University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue