- Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev, Volume 2, Reformer [1945-1964]
Volume Two of the Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev ostensibly covers the [End Page 1310] years from 1945 to 1964, when Khrushchev was relieved of his position as General Secretary of the Communist Party. However, readers of this journal unfortunately will not find this tome as satisfying as Volume One, which covered the years up to and including World War II.
Volume Two is divided into three sections. Part one covers the years from 1945 to the famous Twentieth Party Congress in 1956 when Khrushchev denounced Stalin's methods to achieve socialism. This is the most interesting section, with a number of fascinating anecdotes regarding Stalin, Beria, and others in the Soviet leadership. Khrushchev describes a truly dark world of suspicion and fear.
The following two sections, however, lack the coherence of part one. This is unfortunate as they cover the rebuilding of the postwar Soviet Union and national security issues. This is not the fault of the editor or translators but rather of the manner in which Khrushchev related his ideas. They come across as random thoughts on topics such as corn, tractors, and field rotation as they pertained to the rebuilding of the Soviet Union. Issues of defense are described in short sections discussing the navy, missiles, and the state of the Red Army. Some interesting discussions arise, such as Khrushchev's recollections regarding the future of the Soviet navy and how much effort was put into submarine research and production. Yet major events are barely touched upon. For example, the shooting down of Gary Powers's U-2 spy plane and the Cuban missile crisis are only briefly mentioned and barely discussed.
In terms of military history the most important aspect of this volume is Khrushchev's descriptions of the postwar Soviet Union. It is a nation severely weakened by World War II and afraid of U.S. power. Khrushchev describes a Soviet Union barely able to feed itself with a military already aware of its technical backwardness compared to the West. Khrushchev claims the Soviet Union was not a viable threat to the West.
Like the preceding volume, this work is a fine translation, easy to read, but fragmented. There are excellent notes following each chapter and photographs showing Khrushchev up to his retirement. The index is excellent and a number of appendixes are included, some quite lengthy, which provide rare insights into Khrushchev's character.
This volume would be another valuable addition for the Soviet specialist but military historians should wait for the final volume, which hopefully will go into more detail regarding the major Cold War events of Khrushchev's tenure as General Secretary.