Excerpt from K Blows Top by Peter Carlson, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

K Blows Top

A Cold War Comic Interlude Starring Nikita Khrushchev, America's Most Unlikely Tourist

by Peter Carlson

K Blows Top by Peter Carlson
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2009, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2010, 352 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Micah Gell-Redman

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Excerpt
K Blows Top

Khrushchev’s first meal in America was a sumptuous lunch at Blair House, the official presidential guest residence—fillet of beef with truffles, potatoes, string beans, and a Charlotte Russe praline with raspberry sauce. He was just finishing when he received his first visitor—Henry Cabot Lodge, the American ambassador to the United Nations and the man Ike had selected to be Khrushchev’s tour guide on his odyssey across America.

Few men on earth had less in common: Khrushchev was a short, pudgy, uneducated Russian peasant who’d climbed to power by tenacity and brutality; Lodge was a tall, thin, Harvard-educated Boston Brahmin who’d been born into America’s aristocracy, scion of one of the families immortalized in an old New England toast:

Here’s to good old Boston,
Home of the bean and the cod,
Where the Lowells speak only to the Cabots
And the Cabots speak only to God.


Lodge’s ancestors included six U.S. senators, a secretary of state, a Civil War general, and a governor of Massachusetts. His grandfather and namesake, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, was the dour Republican famous for leading the forces that crushed Woodrow Wilson’s hopes that the United States would join the newly formed League of Nations after World War I.

Growing up, Lodge picked mulberries in Henry James’s garden, rode horses with George Patton, and visited Edith Wharton’s house in France, where he lived with his family for two years, studying French. In the 1920s, he worked as a newsman, writing for the Boston Transcript and the New York Herald-Tribune. In 1936, after a brief stint in the Massachusetts legislature, he was elected to his grandfather’s old seat in the U.S. Senate. Witty, friendly, and popular, Lodge was a liberal Republican who supported many of FDR’s New Deal programs. During the war, he resigned from the Senate, to serve in the Army in Europe. After the war, he won reelection to the Senate, but he was defeated in 1952 by a rich, handsome young war hero named John F. Kennedy. In 1953, Eisenhower appointed Lodge ambassador to the United Nations, which was, ironically, the successor to the League of Nations that his grandfather had fought so fiercely.

When Ike picked Lodge instead of Nixon to serve as Khrushchev’s guide, pundits speculated that the president was indicating his choice of a successor. Actually, Ike’s reasoning was far less Machiavellian. He simply figured that the diplomatic Lodge was less likely than Nixon to get into any eye-gouging, ear-biting brawls with Khrushchev.

When Lodge arrived at Blair House, he introduced himself to his future traveling companion and asked if there was anything he could do. Khrushchev looked up at Lodge—who at six feet four inches stood a foot higher than the Russian—and smiled. “Before coming over here, I read your speeches,” Khrushchev said. “And after I read them, I thought I would be scared of you, but now that I have been with you, talked with you, and seen what a nice man you are, I don’t feel scared any more.”

That was baloney, of course—any man who’d endured Stalin’s murderous whims would hardly be frightened by Lodge’s U.N. oratory—but at least it was good-natured, friendly baloney.

“Mr. Lodge, I want you to understand one thing,” Khrushchev continued, still smiling playfully. “I have not come to the United States to learn anything about America. We know all we need to know about America and we learn it through our Marxist instruction.”

Now it was Lodge’s turn to smile “Thank you for telling me, Mr. Chairman,” he said. “We will do our utmost to comply with your wishes.”

Excerpted from K Blows Top, by Peter Carlson, available now from PublicAffairs (www.publicaffairsbooks.com), a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2009.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Noise of Time
    by Julian Barnes
    Confession: I do two terrible – some say unforgivable – things while reading a book. First...
  • Book Jacket
    Smoke
    by Dan Vyleta
    In Dan Vyleta's universe, set in an alternate Victorian England, people engaging in sinful thought ...
  • Book Jacket: Golden Hill
    Golden Hill
    by Francis Spufford
    Spufford brings American history to raucous life through the story of Mr. Richard Smith, a ...

Win this book!
Win The Library of Light and Shadow

The Library of Light and Shadow by M.J. Rose

"Possibly her best yet. A sensuous, sumptuous, and spellbinding novel." - Kirkus Reviews

Enter

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Almost Sisters
    by Joshilyn Jackson

    A powerful, emotionally resonant novel of the South.
    Reader Reviews

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T H Are B T O

and be entered to win..

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

A richly layered novel of hearts broken seemingly beyond repair and then bound by a stunning act of human devotion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.