Shortlisted for the National Books Critics Circle Award: "The book is a gift, as fascinating as it is important."—Robert Legvold, Foreign AffairsThe definitive biography of the mercurial Soviet leader who succeeded and denounced Stalin. Nikita Khrushchev was one of the most complex and important political figures of the twentieth century. Ruler of the Soviet Union during the first decade after Stalin's death, Khrushchev left a contradictory stamp on his country and on the world. His life and career mirror the Soviet experience: revolution, civil war, famine, collectivization, industrialization, terror, world war, cold war, Stalinism, post-Stalinism. Complicit in terrible Stalinist crimes, Khrushchev nevertheless retained his humanity: his daring attempt to reform communism prepared the ground for its eventual collapse; and his awkward efforts to ease the cold war triggered its most dangerous crises. This is the first comprehensive biography of Khrushchev and the first of any Soviet leader to reflect the full range of sources that have become available since the USSR collapsed. Combining a page-turning historical narrative with penetrating political and psychological analysis, this book brims with the life and excitement of a man whose story personified his era.