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Nikita Khrushchev and the Creation of a Superpower Paperback – October 26, 2001


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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

A filial but revealing semi-biography of Nikita Khrushchev by his son, now at the Institute for International Studies at Brown. 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 blusterand he concluded after the Suez crisis that his opponents could be intimidated by ithe 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 doesnt 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 palmsbut 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. -- Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“Sergei Khrushchev is an intelligent observer; he had many opportunities to converse with his father, he overheard his father’s discussions with others, and kept a record of the events which he had witnessed. He writes straightforward prose, without literary pretensions. The most valuable information which this book provides bears on something that for all its importance rarely emerges from documents, namely, attitudes and ambiance—the imponderables that determine how statesmen act.”
—Richard Pipes, Times Literary Supplement

“This book is far more than a casual exculpatory portrait by a member of the family. For years, Khrushchev the younger has studied his father’s leadership; in the late 1960s, he helped prepare the famous Khrushchev tapes. . . . He makes no excuses for his father and acknowledged his mistakes. Yet he also stresses the temper of the times, its mindset (including his own), and what the system permitted and required.”
—Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press (October 26, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0271021705
  • ISBN-13: 978-0271021706
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #871,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard Sanderson on April 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
"Nikita Khrushchev and the Creation of a Superpower" is an exciting and easily readable account of one of the major players during the Cold War. It was written by Khrushchev's son, Sergei Khrushchev, who was in a unique position to document not only the events, but the man behind the events in the Soviet Union. Khrushchev included his son in many high-level activities and often shared with him his innermost thoughts and feelings. Sergei eventually became a rocket engineer, but never stopped observing history from his front-row seat and apparently realized at an early age that his observations would be of great historical importance. There is no doubt that Sergei Khrushchev was very devoted to his father - he refers to him as "Father" throughout the book - but he doesn't always agree with him. He makes intelligent and insightful observations and is dedicated to providing an accurate historical narrative.

I was a young boy during the late 50s and early 60s and vaguely remember some of the events described in detail in this book. I recall my parents talking about the Cuban Missile Crisis and Francis Gary Powers and the U-2 incident. I still recall the aura of evil that surrounded Khrushchev's name when I was a child - an aura that was manufactured as each side in the Cold War slanted the facts to support its own position. For example, during our country's outrage at the presence of nuclear missiles in Cuba, I don't recall anyone ever mentioning that we had already surrounded the Soviet Union with similar weapons. The Soviets were as nervous as the United States about being attacked. They struggled to provide food and shelter to their people while building up an expensive, high-tech arsenal as a deterrent.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Thomas S. Fiske on October 7, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What a pleasure it was to read "Nikita Khrushchev!." The book flows smoothly and evenly (except for those long Russian names)without interruption. The authors make the subject become human and not just an obscure figure in a history book. Sergei Khrushchev's observations are worth the price of admission. Apparently he did not miss much as he attended many of his father's meetings. Luckily, if Sergei does not know something, he says so. But he does know a great deal and shares it with the reader, answering many questions and putting to bed many wild rumors in a way that will benefit historians for years to come.

But you do not have to be a historian to enjoy the book. It is not technical but folksy with a hint of a sense of humor. And all the time there is the authority of knowledge--Sergei watched his story unfold. He makes the reader his guest while great leaders of the past stroll by.

I recommend this book both for its insight and its wisdom.

I know of parts of the story that were left out and I intend to fill in some of the gaps in a future book, but the gaps are small and in no way could damage the cope of "Nikita Khrushchev."
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Provides a very different perspective on Krushchev's view of the world and efforts to improve governance of the Soviet Union.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Silvio Durante on January 4, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
this book is very good. I like it.
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