NIKITA KHRUSHCHEV by Sergei N. Khrushchev


and the Creation of a Superpower
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A filial but revealing semi-biography of Nikita Khrushchev by his son, now at the Institute for International Studies at


Because Sergei Khrushchev intends to deal only with those matters he discussed with his father or personally witnessed, he

leaves out much of the early life, except for a short memoir composed by his mother, but he supplements the narrative with

portions of the full text of Khrushchev's own memoirs. Sergei is strongest on the development of Soviet weapons, particularly

missiles, since he was attached as an engineer to one of the main designers. But that perspective is highly relevant to the

US-Soviet relationship during that period and to Nikita Khrushchev as a man. To the end of his life, Sergei says, his father could

not watch films about the war or read books on the subject. Whatever his bluster—and he concluded after the Suez crisis that

his opponents could be intimidated by it—"he didn't even dream of using force." Sergei records his father's tongue-lashing of

Marshal Grechko, then commander of the ground forces, for suggesting the conquest of Western Europe. He doesn’t think much

of his father's decision to try to station missiles in Cuba—"To this day I can't understand how Father believed such primitive

reasoning," he laments in recording the recommendation that the missiles could be disguised as coconut palms—but he pays

tribute to the wisdom and courage of both Kennedy and Khrushchev in restraining the fervor of their respective hotheads during

the crisis. Indeed, Sergei's account of that crisis may be the most psychologically acute we have of the reactions on both sides.

A fascinating portrait of a man of immense vitality, a fervent Communist, convinced that the Soviet Union would surpass

the US, and the process by which he began subconsciously to understand that the system itself did not work.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-271-01927-1
Page count: 848pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2000