The Publishing Event of the 20th Century
The complete English language translation of Nikita Khrushchev's complete Memoirs have just been published in three volumes: Volume I Commissar 1918 - 1945; Volume II Reformer 1945 - 1964; and Volume III Statesman 1953 - 1964.. Khrushchev was the leader of the Soviet Union from 1953 - 1964, at the height of the Cold War.
For anyone interested in World War II, Volume I is indispensable. Seeing World War II from the Soviet perspective is a real eye opener. This book is worth reading just for the descriptions of Khrushchev's interactions with Stalin, the Soviet dictator during World War II.
This book is not a rehash of history, but a personal narrative filled with personal observations and commentary. This book is long (700 pages) and difficult reading for anyone not familiar with Soviet history. Having a good atlas at hand is also essential, unless one knows the geography of Poland, the Ukraine and Southwest Russia.
Khrushchev looked like an elephant and had a memory to match. The book is brilliantly written and packed with "top secret" information from the 1950's and 1960's. Given the Russian nuclear arsenal, it is a good idea for Americans to continue to pay close attention to Russia.
Volume II deals with Soviet domestic issues. And Volume III deals with foreign policy. It is impossible to understand American history of the 1950's and 1960's without reading this book. It is a gift. Khrushchev was a genius and a great humanitarian. He may have been misguided in many ways, but he was a worker who came up from the bottom to the pinnacle of political power. His perspective is invaluable and his writing is brilliant.
John F. Kennedy won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1957. When he was elected president, he made Dean Rusk, his Secretary of State, promise not to write his memoirs. Kennedy wanted to have the last word on the history of his own administration.
During those years, if anyone had opined that in 40 years we would be able to read Khrushchev's Memoirs, but not Kennedy's, they would have been branded a certified lunatic. Yet, Khrushchev's Memoirs really are the political publishing event of the 20th century.
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