Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev

Volume 2: Reformer, 19451964

Edited by Sergei Khrushchev

Hardback - £70.95

Publication date:

01 September 2006

Length of book:

896 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271028613

Nikita Khrushchev’s proclamation from the floor of the United Nations that “we will bury you” is one of the most chilling and memorable moments in the history of the Cold War, but from the Cuban Missile Crisis to his criticism of the Soviet ruling structure late in his career, the motivation for Khrushchev’s actions wasn’t always clear. Many Americans regarded him as a monster, while in the USSR he was viewed at various times as either hero or traitor. But what was he really like, and what did he really think? Readers of Khrushchev’s memoirs will now be able to answer these questions for themselves (and will discover that what Khrushchev really said at the UN was “we will bury colonialism”).

This is the second volume of three in the only complete and fully reliable version of the memoirs available in English. In the first volume, published in 2004, Khrushchev takes his story up to the close of World War II. In the first section of this second volume, he covers the period from 1945 to 1956, from the famine and devastation of the immediate aftermath of the war to Stalin’s death, the subsequent power struggle, and the Twentieth Party Congress. The remaining sections are devoted to Khrushchev’s recollections and thoughts about various domestic and international problems. In the second and third sections, he recalls the virgin lands and other agricultural campaigns and his dealings with nuclear scientists and weapons designers. He also considers other sectors of the economy, specifically construction and the provision of consumer goods, administrative reform, and questions of war, peace, and disarmament. In the last section, he discusses the relations between the party leadership and the intelligentsia.

Included among the Appendixes are the notebooks of Nina Petrovna Kukharchuk, Khrushchev’s wife.

“Nikita Khrushchev was one of the most important political leaders of the twentieth century. Without his memoirs, neither the rise and fall of the Soviet Union nor the history of the Cold War can be fully understood. By dictating his memoirs and publishing them in the West, Khrushchev transformed himself from the USSR’s leader to one of its first dissidents. His remarkably candid recollections were a harbinger of glasnost to come. . Like virtually all memoirs, his have a personal and political agenda, but even what might be called Khrushchev’s ‘myth of himself’ is vital for understanding how this colorful figure could place his contradictory stamp on his country and the world. The fact that the full text of Khrushchev’s memoirs will now be available in English is cause for rejoicing.”

—William Taubman, Amherst College, author of Khrushchev: The Man and His Era