“Contains unsettling insights into some of the most dangerous geopolitical crises of the time.”—The Economist
This acclaimed study from the authors of “One Hell of a Gamble” brings to life head-to-head confrontations between the Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev and Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy. Drawing on their unrivaled access to Politburo and KGB materials, Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali combine new insights into the Cuban missile crisis as well as startling narratives of the contests for Suez, Iraq, Berlin, and Southeast Asia, with vivid portraits of leaders who challenged Moscow and Washington. Khrushchev’s Cold War provides a gripping history of the crisis years of the Cold War.
In the crowded field of Cold War historiography, Fursenko and Naftali continue to unearth valuable gems from newly available Soviet government documents, a portion of which were first put to use in their history of the 1962 U.S.-Soviet standoff over Cuba (One Hell of a Gamble). Building on increased access to such material, they develop a fascinating picture of the inner dynamics of the Soviet state and its leadership during the Khrushchev era that far surpasses anything U.S. intelligence could manage at the time. They make a convincing case that Khrushchev's major, post-Stalin reorientation of Soviet foreign policy was rooted in competition on the global playing field (and a policy of social regeneration at home), along with a need to cloak the U.S.S.R.'s weaknesses in arms and resources vis- -vis the U.S. This volatile combination reinforces a strategy of bluffs and brinkmanship in several Cold War crises between 1956 and 1962 in the Middle East, Central Europe and the Caribbean. Yet perhaps most surprisingly, Khrushchev's foreign policy despite an energy that, when unchecked, "tended toward recklessness" came with a genuine desire for peaceful coexistence between the superpowers not seen again until Gorbachev.