George Kennan and the American-Russian Relationship, 1865-1924 (PDF)

The US Library of Congress Archives

Forming only a small part of a much longer lecture, Kennan's description of the exile system was both incomplete and misleading. A
basicd istinction existedb etweent he creatmenco f political exilesa and criminal exiles, but Kennan simply spoke about the exile system in generalt erms,o r at leastl eft the disrinctions oh azyt hat reportersf ailed to grasp it.l8 In such a manner he could briefly describe th€ system, defending the position of che Russian government without going into detail. The impression he intended to project is obvious from the assertion that he would have preferred exile for life in Siberia ro five yearsc' onfinementin the Ohio StateP enitentiaryI.e He laters tudiedt he exile systemi n more derail and made it the focuso f a separatele cture, but in r87o he was contenr ro "set the record straight" by means of a brief summary.H e wasm ore interestedin the peoplea nd socialc ustoms
of the vast land that had captured his imagination so entirely; besides, sucht hings werem oree ntertainingf or his listenersth an a descriptiono of rhe Siberian exile system stripped of horror stories.


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