KHRUSHCHEV: The Years in Power by Roy A. & Zhores A. Medvedev Medvedev

KHRUSHCHEV: The Years in Power

Email this review


A temperate and suggestive sketch of Khrushchev's policies by the Soviet biochemist Zhores, now an expellee living in London, and his brother Roy, a historian in the USSR. In a preface, Zhores comments that not even underground Soviet literature has addressed Khrushchev's record; this is the first study ""from within."" It views the premier as a ""cautious and methodical reformer"" from 1953 to 1957, then as an ""impetuous iconoclast"" until his 1964 departure. Focusing on agricultural policy, the book credits Khrushchev with averting utter crisis after Stalin's death by expanding the private sector of farming. Amid the euphoria of deStalinization, Sputnik, and economic competition with the West, however, Khrushchev not only ventured a short-sighted ""great leap"" in meat and dairy output in 1957, but forced a drastic fragmentation of industrial management and agricultural ministries which, the Medvedevs point out, went far beyond American decentralization. The consequent chaos, compounded by a 1963 drought and abrasive party reform, precipitated the orderly ouster of the premier. The Medvedevs dubiously insist that as of 1957, when a coup attempt failed, Khrushchev's power ""was virtually unlimited""; thus his personal deficiencies, and not a struggle to hold his position, become the explanation for his erratic thrusts. Nonetheless, this is a useful little appraisal which does not pretend to startle specialists but will receive broad attention because of its authorship.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1976
ISBN: 0393008797
Publisher: Columbia Univ. Press