KHRUSHCHEV REMEMBERS: The Last Testament by Nikita S. Khrushchev


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The second volume of Khrushchev's memoirs bears all the voiceprints of a lovable dodo. The ex-Premier, musing in retirement, blusters about Stalin's mistakes -- for example, the postwar drive to build up, of all things, a conventional navy. And at the same time he shares Stalin's humble reflex of gratification when any capitalist spokesman (de Gaulle called me mon ami!) acts civil. Indeed, the book outweighs tons of revisionist historical tracts in its lively demonstration of the unbroken tradition of defensive postures by the Soviets. Of course there is also an obligato of self-justification, both national (China's irrationality) and personal (Khrushchev disapproved of sending troops into Poland). On the Cuban missile crisis, the Vienna meeting with JFK, etc. Khrushchev's recollections amplify the impression of gratitude for small things won or not lost. Khrushchev meets the U.S. brewery workers' head and ""When he reached for another glass of beer I noticed he had gold wrist watches on both his left and fight arms. What did he think they were, decorations? Bracelets?"" His scorn is equaled only by his enthusiasm for such bourgeois rulers as Nehru and General Ne Win of Burma. Echt Khrushchevisms persist as he rumbles and bumbles on the subject of agriculture. Some reviewers wondered whether the memoirs are a fabrication. If so, this volume represents a slick job by someone with an excellent psychological profile of the man; both Khrushchev's true simple-mindedness and his shrewd-simple Ukrainian persona come through in a fashion as memorable as these grave years.

Pub Date: June 14th, 1974
Publisher: Little, Brown