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Khrushchev's 1959 trip across America was one of the strangest exercises in international diplomacy ever conducted a surreal extravaganza,” as historian John Lewis Gaddis called it. Khrushchev told jokes, threw tantrums, sparked a riot in a San Francisco supermarket, wowed the coeds in a home economics class in Iowa, and ogled Shirley MacLaine as she filmed a dance scene in Can-Can. He befriended and offended a cast of characters including Nelson Rockefeller, Richard Nixon, Eleanor Roosevelt, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe.
Published for the fiftieth anniversary of the trip, K Blows Top is a work of history that reads like a Vonnegut novel. This cantankerous communist's road trip took place against the backdrop of the fifties in capitalist America, with the shadow of the hydrogen bomb hanging over his visit like the Sword of Damocles. As Khrushchev kept reminding people, he was a hot-tempered man who possessed the power to incinerate America.
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Peter Carlson is a former feature writer and columnist for The Washington Post, where he wrote the weekly column The Magazine Reader.” The author of Roughneck: The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, and a co-author with Hunter S. Thompson and George Plimpton, among others of The Gospel According to ESPN, he lives in Rockville, MD.From AudioFile:
Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev visited the U.S. in 1959, following a visit to Russia by then-Vice President Richard Nixon. K, as the headlines called him at the time, personified the evil threat of Communism to Americans. His visit provoked thousands of newspaper articles on the trip, and they form the basis of this entertaining and informative story about "inviting the enemy into our camp." Both the humorous and explosive sides of the Russian leader's personality give narrator Malcolm Hillgartner ample material for his clever impersonation and faux accent. A studied parody of Nixon's unmistakable muttering chimes in here and there as well. Hillgartner's appropriate humor and announcer's voice act like a tour guide to American life and politics during the Cold War of the 1950s. J.A.H. © AudioFile 2009, Portland, Maine
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