The Lost Khrushchev: A Journey Into the Gulag of the Russian Mind is the result of Nina Khrushcheva’s determination to unravel accusations that Nikita Khrushchev’s oldest son Leonid—the author’s grandfather—was a traitor to Russia during World War II, accusations that, she finds, are greatly wrapped up in political criticisms against her great-grandfather Nikita. The book is a window into Leonid’s nonconformist life and battlefield death at age 25, when his fighter plane was shot down in 1943. The allegation, first revealed to her by none other than Stalin’s foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and now a mainstay in current Russian media, is that Leonid survived the crash, then deserted and collaborated with the Nazis, for which he was ultimately captured and executed by Joseph Stalin.
So what happened to that lost Khrushchev?
Blending political history and personal memoir, merging the contemporary and historical based on her thirty years of conversations and interviews with her great-grandfather’s political opponents such as Molotov, and intellectual supporters like Mikhail Gorbachev, and combing through old diaries and war letters, Khrushcheva sets out to uncover whether Leonid was really a traitor, or he, like 20 million other Russians, lost his life during the war.
- Professor of International Affairs, New School University, New York City