Khrushchev: The Man and His Era

( 3 )

Overview

Remembered by many as the Soviet leader who banged his shoe at the United Nations, Nikita Khrushchev was in fact one of the most complex and important political figures of the twentieth century. Complicit in terrible Stalinist crimes, he managed to retain his humanity. His daring attempt to reform Communism—by denouncing Stalin and releasing and rehabilitating millions of his victims—prepared the ground for its eventual collapse. His awkward efforts to ease the Cold War triggered its most dangerous crises in ...
See more details below
Hardcover
$60.43
BN.com price
(Save 9%)$67.00 List Price
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (43) from $1.99   
  • New (6) from $15.00   
  • Used (37) from $1.99   
Khrushchev: The Man and His Era

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$13.99
BN.com price
(Save 43%)$24.95 List Price

Overview

Remembered by many as the Soviet leader who banged his shoe at the United Nations, Nikita Khrushchev was in fact one of the most complex and important political figures of the twentieth century. Complicit in terrible Stalinist crimes, he managed to retain his humanity. His daring attempt to reform Communism—by denouncing Stalin and releasing and rehabilitating millions of his victims—prepared the ground for its eventual collapse. His awkward efforts to ease the Cold War triggered its most dangerous crises in Berlin and Cuba. The ruler of the Soviet Union during the first decade after Stalin's death, Khrushchev left his contradictory stamp on his country and the world. More than that, his life and career hold up a mirror to the Soviet age as a whole: revolution, civil war, famine, collectivization, industrialization, terror, world war, cold war, Stalinism, post-Stalinism. The first full and comprehensive biography of Khrushchev, and the first of any Soviet leader to reflect the full range of sources that have become available since the USSR collapsed, this book weaves together Khrushchev's personal triumphs and tragedy with those of his country. It draws on newly opened archives in Russia and Ukraine, the author's visits to places where Khrushchev lived and work, plus extensive interviews with Khrushchev family members, friends, colleagues, subordinates, and diplomats who jousted with him. William Taubman chronicles Khrushchev's life from his humble beginnings in a poor peasant village to his improbable rise into Stalin's inner circle; his stunning, unexpected victory in the deadly duel to succeed Stalin; and the startling reversals of fortune that led to his sudden, ignominious ouster in 1964. Combining a page-turning historical narrative with penetrating political and psychological analysis, this account brims with the life and excitement of a man whose story personifies his era.

"A brilliant, stunning, magnificent book. One of the most important figures of the twentieth century, who had a lot to do with setting the stage for the twenty-first, Khrushchev finally has the biography he deserves—deep and detailed yet fast-paced, scholarly yet not stuffy, historical yet intensely human. Taubman brings Khrushchev alive in all his complexity, capturing both the humanity that somehow survived in him and became the bedrock for his political decency, and the cynicism that made him part of the brutality of the Soviet system. The book has the sweep of a Big Book about a Big Figure, yet its style is no-frills, no-nonsense, straight-from-the-shoulder, with judgments proferred judiciously. Taubman does a superb job of portraying the rogue's gallery of Soviet leaders while providing a colorful canvas of the country and its history. Having spent several years of my own life in Khrushchev's shadow, I couldn't be more admiring of what Taubman has accomplished." —Strobe Talbott, former U.S. deputy secretary of state, editor and translator of Khrushchev's memoirs "Monumental, definitive, rich in detail. Taubman pulls aside the curtain and shows us both a fascinating man and new facts about Soviet decision making during the most dangerous days of the Cold War. A highly readable, compelling story." —Anthony Lake, former U.S. national security adviser "The definitive account of Khrushchev's career and personality, this is also a wonderful page-turner about the deadly duel for power in the Kremlin. Altogether it is one of the best books ever written about the Soviet Union." —Constantine Pleshakov, co-author, Inside the Kremlin's Cold War "Few books in the field of Cold War history have been as eagerly awaited as William Taubman's biography of Nikita Khrushchev. Reflecting years of research as well as a keen sensitivity to culture, context, and personality, this extraordinary book more than matches the extraordinary character of its subject. It is a superb portrayal of one of the most attractive—but also dangerous—leaders of the twentieth century." —John Lewis Gaddis, professor of history, Yale University "A portrait unlikely to be surpassed any time soon in either richness or complexity. This volume, with its brisk, enjoyable narrative, succeeds in every sense: sweep, depth, liveliness, color, tempo. Each chapter shines with mastery and authority."—Leon Aron, The New York Times Book Review "Masterful and monumental...one should salute its author for a wonderful achievement....Starting with a juicy subject...Taubman has drawn on a huge body of material, much of it from newly available Soviet sources....He spent nearly twenty years on the book. The result is fun to read, full of insight and more than a little terrifying."—Robert G. Kaiser, Washington Post "Thanks to Taubman, one of the most important figures of the 20th century finally has the biography he deserves....In reconstructing a single paradoxical life, he helps us understand better the complexity of the human condition."—Strobe Talbott, Los Angeles Times Book Review

Winner of the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography.

Winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Biography.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Taubman has made use of materials from over two dozen Russian and American archives, of more than 70 personal interviews (including ones with Khrushchev's children, grandchildren, in-laws and other relatives), of published and unpublished memoirs, innumerable newspaper and magazine articles, even Soviet newsreels. The list of published books and articles consulted by the author extends across 13 pages. This volume, with its brisk, enjoyable narrative, succeeds in every sense: sweep, depth, liveliness, color, tempo. Each chapter shines with mastery and authority. — Aron Leon
Robert Cottrell
William Taubman's moumental. long-awaited biography of Nikita Khrushchev is the most important book on Khrushchev to appear in English since the deposed Soviet leader's own memoirs in 1970. It is rich in analysis and factual detail, shedding new light both on Khrushchev's life and on the Soviet state.
The New York Review of Books
Strobe Talbott
Khrushchev has been the subject of a long shelf full of books but never, until now, a comprehensive and authoritative biography. William Taubman, a professor of political science at Amherst College, has filled that gap with a masterpiece of scholarship, investigation and narrative. He has, as his subtitle promises, brought alive Khrushchev and his era. He has also established the salient connections between that momentous story and the drama underway in Russia today.—The Los Angeles Times
Publishers Weekly
Amherst College political science professor Taubman's thorough and nuanced account is the first full-length American biography of Khrushchev-and will likely be the definitive one for a long time. Russians, Taubman explains, are still divided by Khrushchev's legacy, largely because of the great contradiction at the heart of his career: he worked closely with Stalin for nearly 20 years, approved thousands of arrests and executions, and continued to idolize the dictator until the latter's death. Yet it was Khrushchev who publicly revealed the enormity of Stalin's crimes, denounced him, and introduced reforms that, Taubman argues, "allowed a nascent civil society to take shape"-eventually making way for perestroika. Taubman untangles the fascinating layers of deception and self-deception in Khrushchev's own memoir, weighing just how much the leader was likely to have known about the purges and his own culpability in them. He also shows that shadows of Stalinism lingered through Khrushchev's 11 years in power: his fourth-grade education left him both awed and threatened by the Russian intelligentsia, which he persecuted; intending to de-escalate the Cold War, the mercurial, blustering first secretary ended up provoking dangerous standoffs with the U.S. The bumbling, equivocal speeches quoted here make Khrushchev seem a rank amateur in international affairs-or, as Taubman politely puts it, he had trouble "thinking things through." Working closely with Khrushchev's children, and interviewing his surviving top-level Central Committee colleagues and aides, Taubman has pieced together a remarkably detailed chronicle, complete with riveting scenes of Kremlin intrigue and acute psychological analysis that further illuminates some of the nightmarish episodes of Soviet history. 32 pages of photos not seen by PW. (Mar.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Foreign Affairs
Few have written a political biography that better captures both a historic figure and the history of which he was a part. Taubman's towering work is stunning not only for its scale and diligence — every aspect checked and cross-checked, no source neglected — but for the skill with which he reconstructs what is essentially a history of Soviet politics during a key phase. Khrushchev, from his peasant coal-miner childhood through his rocket-like rise as a young apparatchik in the 1920s and 1930s to his place at the top of the post-Stalin heap, was the essence of a middle-aged Soviet regime. At once bumptious, clever, ruthless, idealistic, personally insecure, and politically bold, Khrushchev embodied as much as guided the system. But guide he did, from the assault on the Stalin cult, through the 1956 East European uprising, the Berlin confrontations, and the Cuban missile crisis. In the retelling, Taubman adds a wealth of behind-the-scenes detail. The book is a gift, as fascinating as it is important.
Library Journal
There has been a surprising paucity of information produced about the baby boomers' biggest bogeyman. During the 1960s, Khrushchev's bluster and missile rattling jangled the nerves of a generation of Americans fearing a nuclear holocaust. Khrushchev's antics and methods provided the basis for Soviet behavior for the next 20 years and sowed the seeds of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Taubman (political science, Amherst Coll.; Stalin's America Policy, Moscow Spring) has produced a massive biography that is both psychologically and politically revealing. According to Taubman, Khrushchev's rise in the Bolshevik party and patronage by Stalin can be partially laid to Stalin's diminutive stature. Though only 5'6", he still towered comfortably over Khrushchev at 5'1". Drawing on newly opened archives, Taubman threads together all the unanswered questions that Americans have, e.g., why did Khrushchev de-Stalinize Russia, and was Khrushchev himself implicated in Stalin's terrors? The shoe-banging incident, the Berlin Wall, Sputnik, and the Cuban Missile Crisis are all woven together with the accuracy of an academic and the style of a writer. Recommended for all public, academic, and special libraries.-Harry Willems, Southeast Kansas Lib. Syst., Iola
Kirkus Reviews
Communist murderer, reluctant despot—or pretty good guy? The answer that emerges from this complex, massive, but engagingly written study: all of the above. Nikita Khrushchev (1894–1971), suggests Taubman (Political Science/Amherst College), was less paradoxical than opportunistic. "A study in unresolved contrasts," he had a survivor’s gift for being in the right place at the right time and a strong sense of how to avoid trouble though constantly beset by it. Indeed, he was frequently in danger during the first decades of his long career; amazingly, as Taubman documents, he was one of the few one-time (if short-time) followers of Trotsky not to have been murdered at Stalin’s orders, and despite remarkable failures at many turns—including the disastrous Kharkov feint against the invading Nazi forces, which cost the Red Army 267,000 casualties—he managed to avoid the firing squad time and again. Khrushchev enthusiastically endorsed the liquidation of the regime’s enemies, though he was tormented in his final years by his complicity in murder; he crushed freedom movements in Hungary, Poland, and East Germany, though he set in motion some democratizing efforts in his own country that Gorbachev and Yeltsin would fulfill three decades later; and he made every effort to educate and cultivate himself, fostering the arts even while heavily censoring the likes of Boris Pasternak, another of many acts he would come to regret. Taubman shows us Khrushchev in all his guises, revealing a man far different from the shoe-banging clod of Western media caricature. The account of Khrushchev’s masterful destruction of secret policeman Lavrenty Beria, his chief rival to become Stalin’s successor, revealsastonishing Machiavellian powers that Khrushchev had hitherto carefully concealed. Taubman’s analysis of Khrushchev’s eventual fall before what amounted to a right-wing coup is similarly masterful, supplementing the partial record Khrushchev left in his own memoirs and making good use of newly declassified documents from Soviet archives. Altogether superb: an essential study of power and its corruptions and contradictions.
Los Angeles Times Book Review
Thanks to Taubman, one of the most important figures of the 20th century finally has the biography he deserves.— Strobe Talbott
Washington Post
Masterful and monumental...one should salute its author for a wonderful achievement.— Robert G. Kaiser
New York Times Book Review
A portrait unlikely to be surpassed any time soon in either richness or complexity....shines with mastery and authority.— Leon Aron
Strobe Talbott - Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Thanks to Taubman, one of the most important figures of the 20th century finally has the biography he deserves.”
Robert G. Kaiser - Washington Post
“Masterful and monumental...one should salute its author for a wonderful achievement.”
Leon Aron - New York Times Book Review
“A portrait unlikely to be surpassed any time soon in either richness or complexity....shines with mastery and authority.”
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393051445
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 928
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

William Taubman is professor of political science at Amherst College and the author of Stalin's American Policy, Moscow Spring, and other books on the Soviet Union.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Note on Russian and Ukrainian Usage IX
Preface XI
Introduction XVII
1. The Fall: October 1964 3
2. Kalinovka's Own: 1894-1908 18
3. Making It as a Metalworker: 1908-1917 30
4. To Be or Not to Be an Apparatchik: 1918-1929 45
5. Stalin's Pet: 1929-1937 72
6. Stalin's Viceroy: 1938-1941 114
7. Khrushchev at War: 1941-1944 147
8. Ukrainian Viceroy Again: 1944-1949 179
9. The Heir Nonapparent: 1949-1953 208
10. Almost Triumphant: 1953-1955 236
11. From the Secret Speech to the Hungarian Revolution: 1956 270
12. The Jaws of Victory: 1956-1957 300
13. The Wider World: 1917-1957 325
14. Alone at the Top: 1957-1960 361
15. The Berlin Crisis and the American Trip: 1958-1959 396
16. From the U-2 to the UN Shoe: April-September 1960 442
17. Khrushchev and Kennedy: 1960-1961 480
18. "A Communist Society Will Be Just about Built by 1980": 1961-1962 507
19. The Cuban Cure-all: 1962 529
20. The Unraveling: 1962-1964 578
21. After the Fall: 1964-1971 620
Epilogue 647
Abbreviations 653
Notes 657
Bibliography 793
Glossary 825
Acknowledgments 827
Index 831
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2007

    Expansive but Lacking Critical Detail

    This book could be what you are looking, but could be not. It all depends on how much you know about the history of Soviet Union and the facts of life of the protagonist. One of the book's stonger parts is the description of peasant life in Russia prior to the Bolshevik coup d'etat of 1917. The topic is well-researched and the verbal imagery created by the author is quite vivid. This is followed by a fairly comprehensive analysis of industrial workers' life in the years between the turn of the previous century and 1917. From here on out the quality of research plummets to long meandering paragraphs strung together by the author as a substitute for factual accounts of what had -- or likely had -- taken place. Some of the most tremendous and tragic events which happened during Khrushchev's time and by which he doubtless would have been affected, as well as the people of his inner circle are mentioned here in passing. One of these events is the Great Famine of 1932-33 which devasted Ukraine and which -- many argue -- was instigated by the Stalin government as a reprisal against the rebellious Ukrainian peasants who at the time were fighting off forced collectivization. The Great Famine -- granted the status of genocide by the Ukrainian Parliament in 2006 -- was one of the most barbaric incidents of recent history to which Khrushchev was privy, in one way or the other. An event of this magnitude and Khrushchev's participation in it and knowledge of such did not merit in this book much more than a facile treatment. Khrushchev's amazing ability to dodge the various waves of purges is also understated and underanalyzed. His WW2 years and the speech at the 20th congress of the CPSU follow suit. The problem with writing a quality review of this book is that it is not objectively substandard, and yet it does not add much to the scholarship on the issue. Truth be known, I would recommend this volume over Roy Medvedev's work on the same topic, as Taubman's piece, for all its other frailties, seems to be more impartial and less apologetic.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2004

    A Superb Work

    This book is a pure pleasure. The author has a wonderful style that enables the reader to move along smartly. The many quotes from persons familiar with past events, especially son Sergei, add to the 'aliveness' of the portrait. After finishing it, I want to read the new bio of Stalin. Also, Beria is portrayed as such a fascinating and evil character that I also want to read about his life. This book is a work of art and deserves all of the plaudits it has received.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)