In This Review

Nikita Khrushchev’s Journey Into America
Nikita Khrushchev’s Journey Into America
By Lawrence J. Nelson and Matthew G. Schoenbachler
University Press of Kansas, 2019, 296 pp.

In 1959, U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower controversially welcomed the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev for a jaunt around the United States—just three years earlier, the Soviet government had brutally crushed a revolution in Hungary. Khrushchev’s improbable two-week visit did not change the course of the Cold War, nor do Nelson and Schoenbachler change the general understanding of the U.S.-Soviet rivalry. Instead, the book presents a colorful chronicle of Khrushchev’s tour and a lively portrait of the Soviet leader. A firm Marxist, Khrushchev never missed an opportunity to remind his hosts, whether on Wall Street or in Hollywood, that communism was on the right side of history and that capitalism was doomed. He bragged incessantly about Soviet triumphs in space and reacted rudely, sometimes exploding in anger, whenever he detected condescension or disrespect. When not provoked, he could be open and genial, charming and funny, and always anxious to connect with “ordinary Americans.” Unwilling to admit the United States’ economic or technological superiority, he showed curiosity and admiration for things that were new to him, from Eisenhower’s helicopter (he ordered several for his own use in the Soviet Union) to self-service at the IBM cafeteria (he began to introduce this technology in the Soviet Union on his return).