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Khrushchev: The Man and His Era by William…

Khrushchev: The Man and His Era

by William Taubman

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490632,365 (4.09)17
"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 worked, 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 historical narrative with penetrating political and psychological analysis, this account brims with the life and excitement of a man whose story personifies his era."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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Excerpts from my original GR review (Oct 2009):
- This was a relatively brisk read considering the length. Khrushchev grew up the son of scratch farmers, remarkably rising through the local political machinery and eventually to the pinnacle. It's difficult not to view his ascendency as akin to "last man standing". How many underlings or competitors did he jail or vanish? How many lives were ruined, how many people starved in part due to his maintenance of the disastrous "collectivism" of farming? I think it's humorous the way Khrushchev is sort of deemed noble by his denouncement of Stalin. Stalin's legitimacy depended on his dancing on Lenin's grave.
- Taubman writes well, has researched well, and I gleaned a great deal from this work, but a brute is a brute.. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | May 7, 2018 |
Excellent chronicle of a man with 'Blood Up to His Knees '. ( )
  4bonasa | Sep 9, 2017 |
3747. Khrushchev: The Man and His Era, by William Taubman (read 23 May 2003) This biography, to which Brian Lamb and Booknotes devoted two full hours, is well-researched, with 631 pages of text, 138 pages of footnotes, and 31 pages of bibliography. It is full of interest: the super-exciting Cuban missile crisis, the events after Stalin's death, the U-2 shooting down, the coup attempt against Khrushchev in 1957, the Stalin unmasking speech in 1956, etc. It is an excellent book. I never knew how crude Khrushchev was, shoe pounding notwithstanding. And after his deposing one cannot but feel sorry for him! An absorbing book. ( )
1 vote Schmerguls | Nov 13, 2007 |
This is a splendidly detailed and expertly researched biography, while still being eminently readable. It brings out the enormous strengths and exuberant humanity of its subject, as well as his fatal weaknesses, hypocrisies and explosive tendency to alienate those who politically could have been his allies, e.g. the intelligentsia. I am always sorry for him when I read accounts of his ouster, though (one minor flaw) the material on that is all at the beginning of the book, not in its chronological place in the narrative, so that when I went back to skim through it again after the penultimate chapter ended 10 days before the ouster, I felt a little less sorry for him, being able to understand how impossible he must have been to work with. The final chapter details the sorry and shabby treatment he and his family received following his ouster, including being immediately expunged from the media. I have read editions of Pravda from the day of his ouster onwards and he really does literally vanish from the Soviet political world in print, no personal mentions at all, even negative ones. There is no entry for him in editions of the Great Soviet Encyclopaedia published afterwards. Perhaps the most apposite epitaph is Roy Medvedev's, though some qualification must be added: Khrushchev rehabilitated 20 million people sent to the Gulag under Stalin and this outweighs all his faults and mistakes, albeit that Khrushchev was himself complicit in many of these repressions. ( )
2 vote john257hopper | May 31, 2007 |
Khrushchev Bio ( )
2 vote | IraSchor | Apr 8, 2007 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
In ''Khrushchev: The Man and His Era,'' which took almost two decades to research and write, William Taubman, a professor of political science at Amherst College, finally gives us what we (and Khrushchev) deserve: a portrait unlikely to be surpassed any time soon in either richness or complexity.
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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393051447, 0393324842

Yale University Press

An edition of this book was published by Yale University Press.

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