Nikita Khrushchev

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Khrushchev liked to threaten and bully, often using "brinkmanship" (the threat of nuclear weapons); Time Sept. 8, 1961

Nikita Khrushchev (1894 - 1971) was a Ukrainian Communist who became leader of the Soviet Union in a power struggle after Joseph Stalin was assassinated by fellow members of the Politburo in 1953; Khrushchev's grip on power lasted until he was ousted in 1964 over his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis and allowing the publication of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich with its Christian themes. Other Politburo members felt Khrushchev had behaved recklessly in the field of foreign policy and had gone soft on the leftist regime's repressive domestic policy. Khrushchev's nicknames included "Butcher of Budapest" and the "Hangman of the Ukraine."

Khrushchev's tenure as dictator occurred during the height of the Cold War between the Soviet bloc and the United States and its allies. One of the most colorful world leaders of the 20th century, he always identified with the peasant—and indeed he was crude, unsophisticated, earthy, and brutal, as well as energetic, shrewd and determined. He really did hammer his shoe on the table at the United Nations when he disagreed with a speaker. He exposed and ended some of the arbitrary cruelty of Stalin in order to unleash what he thought was the scientific prowess of socialism, but apart from launching the world's first satellite into space, he never found the magic technological fix for Russia's ills, and instead came dangerously close to war with both the Americans and the Chinese. His leadership of the Communist bloc in the Cold War was so dangerous he had to be removed by his subordinates.

Khrushchev said in 1959:

Your children’s children will live under Communism. You Americans are so gullible. No, you won’t accept Communism outright; but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of Socialism until you will finally wake up and find that you already have Communism. We won’t have to fight you; we’ll so weaken you economy, until you will fall like ripe fruit into our hands.

Khrushchev's words were prophetic, as the various incarnations of new leftism, progressivism, and Democratic Socialism over the decades have taken control of the totalitarian Democratic party in the United States.


Joint victory parade of Nazi and Soviet armies, Brest-Litovsk, Poland, September 22, 1939. Courtesy Pauli Kruhse (Finland)

Khruschev's involvement in the Soviet invasion into "Western Ukraine", as he called it, played a role in securing him a position in the higher Soviet leadership and as Stalin's successor.

Born to a poor peasant family, he left school at 14 and followed his father to work in distant mines. He was an ambitious working-class youth during an era of dramatic industrial growth, world war and civil war; he watched closely, met everyone of importance, and displayed organizational skills that moved him ahead. Joining the Communist Party in 1918 (rather late compared to other leaders) he rose rapidly through the ranks, becoming party boss first of Moscow then of all Ukraine. He played a major role in building the Moscow subway—one system that works well in Russia to this day—and in starving the kulaks who owned a few acres. Returning in 1938 to Ukraine, he was regional boss for twelve years.

Khruschev was a major player in implementing the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. As a political commissar he led the Soviet invasion into "Western Ukraine" as he called it, or the borderlands. The German Operation Barbarossa made Ukraine the main theater of operations during the Great Patriotic War and Khruschev remained political commissar at the front 1941-45. He returned to Stalin's side in Moscow in 1949 in charge of agriculture, always the most essential, yet ironically most backward, part of the Soviet economy.

Coming to Power, 1953

After Stalin's death in 1953, Khrushchev and premier Georgi Malenkov united their networks against Soviet security chief Lavrenti Beria. The defection of two of Beria's deputy ministers allowed Khrushchev and Malenkov to arrest Beria, for without these ministers, Beria no longer had control of Ministry of Interior troops or the troops of the Kremlin Guard. Beria was killed by firing squad. By 1957, Khrushchev had shoved Malenkov aside and had consolidated his dictatorship. His technique was to replace half the regional party leaders with his own network of loyalists, which gave him the votes to win victory in the Central Committee over the "anti-party group" of Malenkov, Vyacheslav Molotov, and Lazar Kaganovich. Officially, he held the title of First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (from 1953 to 1964) and Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers (from 1958 to 1964). He lived with his wife Niva in an old restored mansion in the Lenin Hills.


For a more detailed treatment, see De-Stalinization.

Khruschev, a Ukrainian, banging his shoe on the table at the UN. This widely publicized photo created a vulgar stereotypical image of Russians that persisted for generations. Ironically, his crass diplomatic methods was one reason he was dumped from Soviet leadership a few years later.

Khrushchev denounced Stalin in 1956 in one of the most spectacular and revealing speeches in world history. The audience was originally high officials—they knew bits and pieces of the horrible story of Stalin's crimes, but now for the first time saw the whole picture. Against Khrushchev's intent, the text of the speech was soon translated and publicized worldwide.

The secrets were out; now everyone knew that the Stalin era was built on deceit, disinformation, and false allegations up and down the line, and false imprisonment and execution. Hundreds of thousands of loyal Russians had been shot as "spies" to satisfy Stalin's paranoia. By blaming his predecessor for all of Russia's ills Khrushchev bought time to reform the system. The speech became a tool at all levels for reformers to attack the old guard that was accused of complicity in Stalin's crimes. Khrushchev himself shared the guilt but purged himself by revealing it. He could now terminate the worst features of the Gulag, stopping arbitrary executions, freeing half the 2.3 million prisoners and shortening the terms for the rest, and rehabilitating the memory of the dead. Yet Khrushchev had to allow the secret police (now called KGB) to maintain a high enough fear level in people's minds to keep the Party in power. As for the memories of Stalin, that was solved by erasing him from history—his name was never mentioned, his image never seen—and instead filling the media and the minds with the glorious heroics of the Great Patriotic War against Germany. The personality cult that Stalin had built was totally dismantled and was never to be repeated; only one statue was permitted to survive, and that was in Stalin's remote birthplace in Georgia.[1]

The "thaw" was the little taste of freedom after so many years of tyranny. Tasting a little freedom for the first time ever, Soviet citizens began following Western ideas and fashions in clothing. Realizing he had allowed too much freedom for Communism to survive, Khrushchev shut down the "cultural thaw" that had begun. He closed the magazines in Moscow that had started to honestly describe and analyze Soviet society. The writers, musicians and artists were put under firmer control. Boris Pasternak, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature in 1958 for his novel Doctor Zhivago, was ostracized as a Judas.[2]

Khrushchev did not realize that "glasnost" would get people thinking outside Russia. One unexpected result was the Hungarian uprising a year later that had to be crushed by the Russian army. The revelations were a devastating blow to international Communism worldwide, especially as intellectuals and artists discovered they had been duped into blind support for a monster. The Chinese moved into the vacuum, idealizing Mao and setting up rival Communist parties in most countries.

Foreign policy

Khrushchev handled foreign policy poorly. He had to preserve control of Eastern Europe—but persuasion failed and he sent in his army to suppress Hungary. Second, he had to maintain the unity of the world Communist movement, which turned above all on relations with China. Despite massive amounts of aid to China, he failed and made his most important ally into his most implacable foe. Finally he had to de-escalate tensions and reach equilibrium with the United States. He instead tried nuclear confrontation, leading to near disaster in 1962 until he drew back at the last second over Cuba. More successful was his quest for prestige which centered on the Space Race—where the Soviets astonished the world by taking a clear lead over the U.S. for a few years.

United States

After a quiet summit meeting with President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Geneva in 1955, Khrushchev made a personal visit to the U.S. in 1959. He was impressed with the hybrid corn and disgusted with the shimmer and glitter of Hollywood. A summit planned for 1960 was canceled when an American U-2 spy plane, piloted by Francis Gary Powers, was shot down in 1960 and Powers was captured.

Khrushchev and Kennedy at the Vienna Summit in 1961.

Khrushchev met with President Kennedy during Kennedy's first year in office at the Vienna Summit of 1961. Journalist James Reston wrote afterward,

Kennedy went there shortly after his spectacular blunders at the Bay of Pigs, and was savaged by Khrushchev.... I had an hour alone with President Kennedy immediately after his last meeting with Khrushchev in Vienna at that time...Khrushchev had assumed, Kennedy said, that any American President who invaded Cuba without adequate preparation was inexperienced, and any president who then didn't use force to see the invasion through was weak. Kennedy admitted Khrushchev's logic on both points.

Space race

The Sputnik in 1957 was the greatest triumph of Soviet technology

Sputnik—the first earth satellite—was a propagandist's dream come true when it astonished the world in October 1957. There followed a series of firsts, demonstrating the superiority of the big Soviet launching missiles, which could also be used to launch nuclear weapons. The image of Yuri Gagarin, who became in 1961 the first man to orbit the earth, was made a central theme in Soviet propaganda, used to encourage the young to contribute to the building of communism as well as to enhance Khrushchev's legitimacy as he sought to distance himself from the legacy of the Stalinist past.

Third World

Khrushchev cooks up trouble for the West by turning up the heat and watching to see where unrest will boil over

Seeing Kennedy's indecisiveness, he ordered the building of the Berlin Wall in 1962 to stop the exodus of talent from East Germany to freedom. Kennedy made some speeches then accommodated to the new tyranny.[3] Emboldened, the Soviets expanded their subversion in weak nations, knowing that the American containment policy would force the West to defend itself under the most adverse conditions, as selected by the Kremlin. Sums were spread widely to see where trouble would best brew.

Soviet interest in the Third World grew with the aim of weakening the United States.

The Kremlin tried to gain a foothold among the newly independent countries of sub-Saharan Africa by giving technical and educational assistance to such socialist countries as Guinea, Mali, and Ghana. Although the Soviets publicly maintained that their efforts were strictly fraternal and were being made unconditionally, in fact the secret Kremlin documents show that the aid was part of a strategy to promote Communist foreign policies and undercut capitalism. African leaders, however, were more interested in an Africanization of their erstwhile colonial structures, and carefully sidestepped the ideological ramifications of the collaboration. In the critical area of joint educational projects, they refused to give Soviet teachers and professors privileged positions even in the institutions built by the USSR, such as the Institut Polytechnique in Conakry, which consistently had more Western instructors than Soviet ones. With instruction taking place in English and French (the former colonial languages), it was noted that the Soviet instructors' proficiency and often their technical expertise lagged far behind those of their French and American counterparts. The Soviets seem to have overestimated the attraction of Patrice Lumumba University (now called "Peoples' Friendship University) in Moscow while clearly lacking the human and pedagogical means to offer sufficient training in Africa itself and may have been proceeding without plan in what they perhaps considered a region of peripheral importance in the conduct of the Cold War. Setting up Patrice Lumumba University for African students in 1960 was one solution, but the African students there reported an intense degree of hatred and racism from the Russian students which further soured relations.[4]

Intensified commercial and cultural relations with Latin American countries paid off when Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba in 1959 and aligned his country with the Soviets, and counted on the Kremlin to back him in direct confrontations with the U.S. Castro sponsored guerrilla movements in the region, and later in Africa, that the Russians avoided. Khrushchev was ultimately more interested in peaceful coexistence and in pursuing a classic policy of regional power than in revolutionary strategy. Khrushchev blundered by allowing Castro to take the initiative, which brought the world to the brink of disaster with the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Cuban Missile Crisis

see Cuban Missile Crisis

Khrushchev badly miscalculated regarding Cuba, which he feared would be invaded by Americans. As the Kennedy Administration developed a first-strike military strategy and a nuclear superiority capable of delivering it, Khrushchev sought to parry the American advantage by installing short-range Soviet missiles with nuclear warheads in Cuba, supposedly under his control (not Castro's). Stunned to discover the missiles, Washington demanded their removal and through a naval blockade around the island. Khrushchev seems not to have consulted his advisors, and was ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Cuba against invasion and to send four nuclear-armed submarines to Cuba. Anastas Mikoyan (1895-1978) calmed the emotional Khrushchev and got him to avoid such provocative acts. He at last relented and took out the missiles and nuclear weapons, winning a public promise that the U.S. would never invade Cuba. He also got the Americans to secretly remove their nuclear missiles from Turkey and Italy.

Khrushchev made three blunders. First, he never should have placed missiles in Cuba. Second he should not have sent two contradictory messages in the space of 24 hours. Finally, by "blinking" during the showdown over the quarantine, he undermined his standing with the United States and in the Kremlin. His recklessness troubled other Kremlin leaders, who saw the Cuban episode as a fiasco that was all Khrushchev's fault.[5]

The Cuban Missile Crisis was the final factor leading to the Sino-Soviet split in which Maoists in Beijing began establishing and following their own foreign policy direction, and not taking instructions from Moscow as they had throughout the Stalinist years. The Sino-Soviet Split was open and obvious to foreign policy observers worldwide, however the American CIA and military industrial complex kept up the ruse of a monolithic, global communist threat for another 10 years to justify American involvement in Vietnam.

Test Ban Treaty

A fragile détente began after the missile crisis was resolved that helped the two sides to agree to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963. Khrushchev's political weakness after his Cuban fiasco was the main obstacle. By April 1963 - three months before US president John F. Kennedy's conciliatory speech at American University that is usually regarded as the turning point - the Soviet leader became committed to the treaty in principle. Discord within the Communist world prevented action until efforts to mend the rift with China collapsed, underscoring the need for a successful agreement with the West. Once the treaty was signed, however, the two sides failed to build on their common accomplishment and got bogged down by political issues that divided them. The opportunity for a deeper détente and a comprehensive test ban was lost because the Soviets had to seek to undermine capitalism in the west and Mao's challenge in the East.[6]

Communist lands


When the Hungarians revolted against Communism in 1956, and the Hungarian army refused to shoot on the crowds, Khrushchev sent in Field Marshall Ivan Konev and the Soviet combat army to suppress the revolt. The fired into the apartment buildings, reducing them to rubble, entombing man, woman and child[7] He executed the Hungarian leader Imre Nagy and replaced him with a pro-Soviet puppet.

East Germany

The uprising in Hungary led to political crisis throughout Eastern Europe and seriously threatened the position of East Germany's Communist dictator Walter Ulbricht. He was able to remain in power and to prevent an uprising because Khrushchev needed a strong ally in East Germany. In addition, German intellectuals were unorganized, and citizens feared a world war as their radios blared warnings of an American invasion. Soviet support was in all likelihood the key element in Ulbricht's political survival.[8]


Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin allowed Poland to move from Stalinist rule to a more moderate regime in a relatively nonviolent manner. Khrushchev's secret speech intensified the tensions between Communist reformers and Stalinists as well as the population's disaffection with the Stalinist regime, caused by its interference in personal freedom and unlawful imprisonments, as well as economic hardships. The brutal suppression in 1956 of the Poznan uprising, a spontaneous workers' demonstration, and the election in 1956 of Władysław Gomulka (1905–82) to head of the Polish United Workers' Party helped move Poland from Stalinist rule to a more moderate regime.


Khrushchev badly mishandled China—first delivering generous aid, far beyond what his colleagues wanted or he had budgeted, amounting to 7% of Soviet GDP. He sent in the best technicians and the latest equipment, and helped China design its own nuclear weapons. Then Khrushchev swung to the opposite extreme, suddenly withdrawing all Soviet technicians and canceling works in progress. The issue however was deeper than the foolish diplomacy of two rival dictators. The Chinese resented being treated as second class Communists. China was bigger, older, more cultured and resented the upstart Russians who flaunted their greater wealth and more powerful weapons. Most important, China resented Russia's willingness to compromise with capitalism in "peaceful coexistence." Relations drastically worsened from Khrushchev's September 1959 visit to Beijing through the breakdown of compromise in October 1961. Each party sought to appeal to the world as the legitimate party of proletarian internationalism, but China appealed more to the younger, more violent anti-capitalist fanatics. Specific areas of disagreement included the Moscow's refusal to support China in its border conflict with India, which was becoming a Soviet ally. Beijing worried about of Moscow's willingness to talk disarmament with the United States, with the possible threat of a Soviet-American alliance against China. Mao had aggressive plans for advancing Marxist–Leninist goals in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and conflict with Soviet agents in those places was inevitable. Indeed, after 1960 the pro-Moscow and pro-Beijing factions emerged in most Communist parties and sharply weakened them.[9]

Domestic issues

Khrushchev's years of power were marked by strong economic growth, especially in industry; agriculture lagged behind. This was the setting fro the growing confidence in the long-term success of scientific socialism, buttressed by public opinion that was grateful for the slowly rising standard higher standard of living after so many decades of privation. The growth rate was slowing down by 1964, but the Soviets—who lacked accurate statistical measures of their own economy, did not yet realize the sclerosis that was to emerge a decade after Khrushchev was forced into retirement.[10]

Agricultural reform

Herblock laughs at the hair growers

As soon as Stalin died the new premier Malenkov announced a sharp cut in taxes the farms had to pay, and an increase in the allowed size of private plots (which were far more productive than communal plots). The result was a doubling in a year of farm incomes, as peasants toasted to Malenkov's health with local moonshine. When Khrushchev elbowed Malenkov aside, he had to do even better for the peasants, while upgrading the volume and quality of food for the cities.[11] Khrushchev's favorite project was to till the virgin and long-fallow lands of Kazakhstan and nearby Soviet republics in order to increase the USSR's agricultural production, especially of grain. Despite his belief that scientific socialism could overcome all obstacles, the task proved far more immense and complex than the authorities had anticipated; the results were mostly failures, although some local achievements were attained.[12]


The space industry demonstrated that modern management could be applied in Russia; it was much applauded but seldom emulated. There was little reform in heavy industry. Instead of adopting modern principles of management as practiced in other industrialized countries, from the 1950s to the 1990s there was a continuation of the old Soviet pattern of inner-circle intrigues, shuffling the same old bureaucrats and functionaries around the same old posts and flailing around from one set of measures to another. The military carved out its own industrial sector, where productivity was somewhat higher.


Khrushchev presided over the construction of millions small drab, poorly built apartments for 108 million residents. Most were 5-story walkups (elevators were too expensive for the poor nation). Techniques of prefabrication allowed cheap factory production with fewer skilled construction workers but minimized quality control; people called them "Krushchoby" (combining his name with the word for slums). Typically there were three generations squeezed into a couple rooms—parents, children, and a widowed mother. (Because of the wars, the old people were mostly women.) The apartments boosted his popularity because they marked a dramatic improvement over the horrid housing they previously enjoyed, and led to a form of "ownership" whereby tenants were locked into their specific apartment with very little opportunity to move around—rather like rent controlled apartments in New York at the same time.[13]

Vice President Nixon boasts to Khrushchev of the superiority of American kitchens; Leonid Brezhnev, who later overthrew Khrushchev, is on the right

A central feature of the new apartments was the kitchen—families no longer had to eat in communal settings. The Soviet kitchen was presented as a model of efficiency where one could find a bit of privacy. The kitchen gained ideological importance and was viewed as a central element of the grand program of socialist modernization, further proof of the ultimate triumph of socialism through its superior living standards. Women were to play a special role, and a number of programs and courses offered them training in home economics. The new kitchen was, above all, to be efficient, and the media portrayed this penetration of technology into everyday life as a key element of socialist modernity. In practice, women found that the promised benefits did not materialize, and to the dismay of Soviet propagandists, American Vice President Richard Nixon came to Moscow in 1959 and in his internationally publicized "kitchen debate" with Khrushchev demonstrated how much superior were American kitchens.[14]


Under Lenin and Stalin before 1939 all churches were persecuted and ridiculed; there was a pause during World War II. Khrushchev was no friend of the Orthodox Church, and greatly increased persecution in the late 1950s because he identified it with old-fashioned superstitions that would slow his schemes for the rapid modernization of agriculture. Khrushchev had the Central Committee of the Communist Party in 1954 issued a secret resolution, "On the Serious Defects in Scientific-Atheist Propaganda and Measures for the Improvement Thereof," which demanded new and more scientific standards of struggle against religion. An antireligious campaign, the exact causes and chain of command of which are still debatable, was launched in the second half of the 1950s, and systematic efforts were used to fight not just priests and churches but also to identify and track and isolate all Christians. Khrushchev wanted to reach the very essence of the people's religiousness in order to "cure" them. Half the remaining churches were closed; the others were taxed. The campaign perhaps worked in Latvia, which did give up Lutheranism. In Russia, however, at the local level cures were few. More often, ways were found in which religion and the Soviet system could coexist. The Party found it expedient to ignore religious activity that did not interfere with technological improvements, and the peasants and workers found quiet ways to ensure their religious practices were compatible with participation in the new society. Outward repression like the closing of churches and the prohibition of pilgrimages occurred but were not enough to attain the primary goal of replacing the religious person in rural Russia with the Soviet person. He predicted the end of Christianity in the Soviet Union and boasted that the last Christian would be paraded on Soviet television within a few years.[15] In fact, Christianity outlasted Khrushchev, and even outlived Communism in Russia. He tried to change the soul of Russia and failed.[16]


Khrushchev had little success in reforming the archaic educational system. He tried to remove the worst aspects of Stalinism, promote a degree of freer exchange of opinions, grant schools more autonomy, and make the curricula of primary and secondary schools more relevant to the needs of the expanding and developing Soviet economy. Many politicians and educators opposed the changes. Some wished to maintain the Stalinist system, believing that the USSR needed firm and unwavering central authority and automatic obedience, rather than students who could think for themselves. Old fashioned pedagogs used to relentless drill and memorization realized they were ill fitted to adapt to the changes. Some educators supported the changes, but fearfully, wondering whether any future change of leadership might lead to the denunciation of Khrushchev's reforms and the censure of those who had accepted them. The reforms were put together hastily, were implemented fitfully and capriciously, and failed fundamentally to change Soviet educational results. More drills and more obedience remained the rule.



By late 1964 Kremlin leaders were fed up with Khrushchev's irascible and self-contradictory behavior; top officials all complained he no longer consulted with them. He had been weakened by the Cuban Missile Crisis and his split with China. Khrushchev knew he was tired out and talked of retirement, but there was no orderly way to change rulers. He failed to realize he had lost support among workers, farmers and the intelligentsia. The military was angry at his plans to slash their budgets. None of the grandiose socialist reforms he had promised so often were working out; even the space program had fallen behind the Americans. China was now an enemy and building alternative Communist parties across the world reforms. Top conspirators included Leonid Brezhnev, Alexei Kosygin, Nikolai Podgorny, Mikhail Suslov; they acted in a bloodless coup to remove Khrushchev from his government and party positions in October 1964. They persuaded the Politburo, which governed the Communist Party, to replace Khrushchev with Brezhnev. Khrushchev then quietly lived out the remainder of his life under the watch of the KGB until his death in 1971. He managed to smuggle out his memoirs for publication in the West.

We will bury you

On November 18, 1956 Khrushchev boasted to the West, "We will bury you". Americans were outraged—was he promising a nuclear Pearl Harbor? He later said he meant it economically.[17] He actually believed that it was possible to overtake the U.S. in the production of meat, butter and milk. What happened was that urbanization was bringing millions of peasants from jobs of low productivity on the farm to jobs of much better productivity in the cities, though still at levels well below western Europe and the U.S. The result was a temporary boost in very high growth rates that leveled off after so may people had quit the farms that food shortages loomed. Khrushchev was a true believer in Communism; his son Sergei is now an American citizen.


Historians are still puzzled about some basic questions. As William Taubman has asked, Foreword, many questions remain unanswered. "How did Khrushchev manage not only to survive Stalin but to succeed him? What led him to denounce his former master? How could a man of minimal formal education direct the affairs of a vast intercontinental empire in the nuclear age? Why did Khrushchev's attempt to ease East-West tensions result in two of the worst crises of the Cold War in Berlin and Cuba?"[18]

External links

Further reading

  • Beschloss, Michael R. The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, 1960-1963 (1991)
  • Dobbs, Michael. One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War (2008) excerpt and text search
  • Florinsky, Michael T. McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Russia and the Soviet Union (1961) online edition
  • Fursenko, Aleksandr, and Timothy Naftali. One Hell of a Gamble: Khrushchev, Castro, and Kennedy, 1958-1964 (1997) online edition
  • Fursenko, Aleksandr, and Timothy Naftali. Khrushchev's Cold War: The Inside Story of an American Adversary (2007) excerpt and text search
  • Kaldor, Nicholas, et al. Khrushchev--A Political Life (1989) online edition
  • Keep, John L. H. Last of the Empires: A History of the Soviet Union, 1945-1991 (1996) online edition
  • McCauley. Martin. The Khrushchev Era 1953-1964 (1995), excerpt and text search
  • Mastny, Vojtech, and Malcolm Byrne. A Cardboard Castle? An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991 (2005) online edition
  • Taubman, William. Khrushchev: The Man and His Era (2003), 896pp; outstanding, balanced biography; Pulitzer prize; the best place to start excerpt and text search
  • Tompson, William J. Khrushchev: A Political Life (1997) excerpt and text search
  • Von Bencke, Matthew J. The Politics of Space: A History of U.S.-Soviet/Russian Competition and Cooperation in Space (1997) online edition
  • Zubok, Vladislav M. A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev (2007) excerpt and text search

Primary sources

  • Khrushchev, Nikita. Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev, edited by his son Sergei N. Khrushchev
    • Volume 1: Commissar, 1918–1945 (2004) 1004pp contents
    • Volume 2: Reformer, 1945–1964 (2006) 896pp contents
    • Volume 3: Statesman, 1953–1964 (2007), 1176pp contents
  • Khrushchev Remembers (1970), ed. by Strobe Talbot; summary of the very candid memoirs
  • "Russia: A Bang in Asia," Time Sept. 8, 1961, cover story on Khrushchev

See also


  1. Cynthia Hooper, "What Can and Cannot Be Said: Between the Stalinist Past and New Soviet Future," Slavonic & East European Review 2008 86(2): 306-327,
  2. Taubman (2003) pp 383-88
  3. Petr Lunák, "Khrushchev and the Berlin Crisis: Soviet Brinkmanship Seen from Inside," Cold War History 2003 3(2): 53-82,
  4. Julie Hessler, "Death of an African Student in Moscow: Race, Politics, and the Cold War," Cahiers du Monde Russe 2006 47(1-2): 33-63. The harsh racism in Moscow continue today; see Seth Mydans, "Moscow Journal; African Students' Harsh Lesson: Racism Is Astir in Russia," New York Times, Dec. 18, 2003
  5. Michael Dobbs, One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War (2008).
  6. Vojtech Mastny, "The 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty: a Missed Opportunity for Détente?" Journal of Cold War Studies 2008 10(1): 3-25,
  7. See You Can Trust the Communists - To Be Communists, by Dr. Fred Schwarz
  8. Johanna Granville, "Ulbricht in October 1956: Survival of the 'Spitzbart' During Destalinization," Journal of Contemporary History 2006 41(3): 477-502,
  9. Danhui Li and Yafeng Xia, "Competing for Leadership: Split or Detente in the Sino-soviet Bloc, 1959-1961," International History Review, 2008 30(3): 545-574,
  10. Historians use data by the American CIA, which had much better estimates of Soviet economic performance.
  11. Zubok (2007) p. 96-97
  12. Taubman (2003) p 305-6
  13. Taubman (2003), p 382; Mark B. Smith, "Individual Forms of Ownership in the Urban Housing Fund of the USSR, 1944-64," Slavonic & East European Review 2008 86(2): 283-305; Steven E. Harris, "'We Too Want To Live in Normal Apartments': Soviet Mass Housing and the Marginalization of the Elderly Under Khrushchev and Brezhnev," The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review, Volume 32, Number 1, 2005 , pp. 143-174 in Ingentia
  14. Susan E. Reid, The Khrushchev Kitchen: Domesticating the Scientific-Technological Revolution," Journal of Contemporary History 2005 40(2): 289-316; Susan E. Reid, "Cold War in the Kitchen: Gender and the De-Stalinization of Consumer Taste in the Soviet Union under Khrushchev," Slavic Review, Vol. 61, No. 2 (Summer, 2002), pp. 211-252 in JSTOR
  16. Andrew B. Stone, "'Overcoming Peasant Backwardness': the Khrushchev Antireligious Campaign and the Rural Soviet Union," Russian Review 2008 67(2): 296-320; Tatiana A. Chumachenko, Church and State in Soviet Russia: Russian Orthodoxy from World War II to the Khrushchev Years (2002). excerpt and text search
  18. William Taubman. forward to Sergei N. Khrushchev, Nikita Khrushchev and the Creation of a Superpower (2000)