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.
The Boston Globe
I plan to dedicate the second half of my life to a new cause: books that are fun to read... K Blows Top fits the bill.
The Washington Post - Jacob Heilbrunn
Carlson seems to have sought and discovered every piece of arcana associated with the Soviet leader's American sojourn. A deft and amusing writer, Carlson does a marvelous job of recounting it.
Hilarious … In Carlson’s hands the cold war is a surprisingly laughing matter.
A high-spirited, often hilarious account of a forgotten moment in Cold War history. A fast-paced work of political history, peppered with references to Shirley MacLaine's knickers, Iowa corn, Dwight Eisenhower’s frown, Nina Khrushchev’s sidelong glances at Frank Sinatra and all the other makings of mutually assured destruction.
Starred Review. The book is consistently informative and funny, but there are episodes that are strangely surreal… a fine example of popular history at its most engaging - anecdotal but informative and written with great feeling for the comedic side of current events.
Starred Review. For anyone interested in this remarkable moment in the long history of U.S.-Soviet relations, Carlson's book is a treat!
This book recreates in vivid detail one of the most astonishing figures in our recent history. The Communist leader's storming of America can be enjoyed by everyone, but especially those with memories of that singular episode in the winding down of the Cold War.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Thomas Riley Fun and frothy history Great read! Even tho' I'm not old enough to remember Kruschchev and much of the cold war, I enjoyed these history of Nikita's visit to US in 1959. Surprisingly funny. Great background info on how foreign dignitaries are handled or, in K's... Read More
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