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K Blows Top

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

by Peter Carlson

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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.

Publication Details

Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication Date:
2009

Format

Peter Carlson (Author)

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 Ge...

More about Peter Carlson
K Blows Top
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