Khrush in America

Andrew O’Hagan

  • K Blows Top by Peter Carlson
    Old Street, 327 pp, £9.99, July 2009, ISBN 978 1 905847 30 3

Shirley MacLaine danced the can-can for Khrushchev and later said: ‘life is a cosmic joke.’ By the time he got to Hollywood, the Soviet premier had become an international comic hero; to many an ogre of the left, but also a character out of Dr Strangelove or one of Vonnegut’s novels. K Blows Top, a non-fiction account of Khrushchev’s trip to America in 1959, could be the most entertaining book of the year, but it is also, in its blood, a novel, a novel-in-secret, with index and pictures and History as a character. If the novel dies, as predicted, it will be found drowned in the doldrums of verisimilitude, having forgotten the comedy of history and the value of the burlesque.

The full text of this book review is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books.

You are not logged in