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"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.
|Note on Russian and Ukrainian Usage||IX|
|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|
Posted June 26, 2007
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 NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 21, 2004
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 NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 14, 2010
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