In This Review

Nikita Khrushchev and the Creation of a Superpower
Nikita Khrushchev and the Creation of a Superpower
By Sergei Khrushchev
Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000, 765 pp

Sergei Khrushchev is a serious biographer, a loyal son, and now an American citizen. 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. As a young man, he was even something of a confidant to the Soviet leader. Here he recounts the dramatic episodes from 1953 to 1964: his father's rise to power, the failed conspiracy to oust him in 1957, and his subsequent fall; the "secret" anti-Stalin speech; the violent intervention in Hungary; the Cuban missile crisis; and in particular the emergence of the country's strategic missile program (something he knew about firsthand and in which his father took great interest). He makes no excuses for his father and acknowledges his mistakes. Yet he also stresses the temper of the times, its mindset (including his own), and what the system permitted and required.