In This Review

Krushchev's Cold War: The Inside Story of an American Adversary
Krushchev's Cold War: The Inside Story of an American Adversary
By Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali
Norton, 2006, 640 pp.

This is the perfect companion volume to William Taubman's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Nikita Khrushchev. Because of Fursenko's access to the Politburo archives and Naftali's combing of U.S. records, the authors are able to get inside actual Soviet decision-making and the diplomacy between Washington and the Kremlin as no one else has. These were years of drama, from the 1955 Geneva Conference to the Cuban missile crisis, and, in between, Suez, Berlin, and Sputnik. Through it all, Khrushchev emerges as a headstrong figure, far more determined to free Soviet foreign policy from its Stalinist encrustations than we had known, genuinely ready for "peaceful coexistence" with the West, and alternately emboldened by his confidence in the communist future and Soviet military breakthroughs and frustrated by a balance of power still favoring the West. Khrushchev sought to deal with the last not with caution but by turning up the heat -- much as, Fursenko and Naftali argue, he sought peace by recklessly risking war.