Extended Audio Sample

Download K Blows Top: A Cold War Comic Interlude, Starring Nikita Khrushchev, America’s Most Unlikely Tourist Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample K Blows Top: A Cold War Comic Interlude, Starring Nikita Khrushchev, America’s Most Unlikely Tourist Audiobook, by Peter Carlson Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (253 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Peter Carlson Narrator: Malcolm Hillgartner Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2009 ISBN: 9781455194520
Regular Price: $20.95 Add to Cart
— or —
FlexPass™ Price: $12.95$5.95$5.95 for new members!
Add to Cart learn more )

Khrushchev’s 1959 trip across America was one of the strangest exercises in international diplomacy ever conducted—“a surreal extravaganza,” as one historian 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.

Download and start listening now!

BK_BLAK_003236

Quotes & Awards

  • “Carlson seems to have sought and discovered every piece of arcana associated with the Soviet leader’s American sojourn. A deft and amusing writer, Carlson does a marvelous job of recounting it.”

    Washington Post

  • “Peter Carlson’s K Blows Top: A Cold War Comic Interlude, Starring Nikita Khrushchev, America’s Most Unlikely Tourist may be the most entertaining historical account you’ll ever read.”

    Washington Post’s Express

  • “The linked sketches of Khrushy’s boozy, mercurial meanderings through New York, Hollywood, and the Iowa State Fair are jaw-dropping in an era of stage-managed diplomacy. Well beyond travelogue, the book is also a portrait of a more naive, optimistic nation in the heat of the nuclear age.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Fast-paced, delightfully sardonic, and thoroughly enjoyable…It’s a revealing portrait of a treacherous decade when the media—especially nascent television, whose news departments seldom questioned the views of the government that controlled their broadcast licenses—were almost as innocent as they were influential.”

    Boston Phoenix

  • K Blows Top by Peter Carlson is a hilarious, accomplished account of this epic journey of ‘a stranger in a strange land’ as he puts it, one of the most important and, inadvertently, one of the funniest state visits of all time.”

    Financial Times

  • “Hilarious…due in equal parts to Khrushchev’s outsized provocateur personality and the bizarre and thoroughly American reaction to his visit…In Carlson’s hands the Cold War is a surprisingly laughing matter.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “The book is consistently informative and funny, but there are episodes that are strangely surreal…a fine example of popular history at its most engaging—anecdotal but informative and written with great feeling for the comedic side of current events.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “For anyone interested in this remarkable moment in the long history of US–Soviet relations, Carlson’s book is a treat!”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “This book recreates in vivid detail one of the most astonishing figures in our recent history. The Communist leader’s storming of America can be enjoyed by everyone but especially those with memories of that singular episode in the winding down of the Cold War.”

    Daniel Schorr, senior news analyst, National Public Radio

  • “[An] entertaining and informative story about ‘inviting the enemy into our camp.’ Both the humorous and explosive sides of the Russian leader’s personality give narrator Malcolm Hillgartner ample material for his clever impersonation and faux accent. A studied parody of Nixon’s unmistakable muttering chimes in here and there as well. Hillgartner’s appropriate humor and announcer’s voice act like a tour guide to American life and politics during the Cold War of the 1950s.”

    AudioFile

  • “Carlson’s account is extremely well researched and includes interviews with a number of participants, most notably Khrushchev’s son, Sergei. Many of the accounts and memos he quotes are from State Department historical documents. His book is enlivened by many direct quotes from Khrushchev and others. Anyone interested in cultural exchange, international diplomacy and fine writing should enjoy this unique book.”

    BookPage

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristin Farren | 2/15/2014

    " great, funny historical read. i am not usually a fan of history non-fiction, which is often accurate at the expense of being dense. this book might treat it's subject too lightly at times but it is a very compelling and quick read about a fascinating historical figure and a very interesting time in 20th century America. i have a special interest in post-WWII soviet union/cold war goings-on but i would recommend this book to anyone. my only complaint is that the author really turns kruschev into a caricature and glosses over some of the important contributions he actually made. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Anita Williamson | 2/13/2014

    " What a horrible narcissistic man. Why did waste so much time reading about him? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Don Fox | 2/5/2014

    " At the height of the cold war Dwight Eisenhower, President of the United States, "accidentally" invited Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the Soviet Union, to tour America, and what a long, strange trip it became. Khrushchev was an extremely interesting, highly complex, and ebulliently charming man who, during his trip, horrified, amazed, and utterly captivated the country. It's a terrific story, and competently told. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stephen Burrows | 2/5/2014

    " A really enjoyable book, not as laugh out loud funny as many reviewers have mentioned but it is incredibly entertaining and fascinating for a reader born 1975. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eden Savino | 2/4/2014

    " crazy! and real! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Josh | 1/12/2014

    " Yet more proof that I should always immediately read whatever the manager of WORD books in Brooklyn recommends. Fantastic history of Khrushchev's larger-than-life personality and bizarre tour of the US in the late 50s. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bonnie | 1/8/2014

    " This was a very entertaining and enlightening and very extensively researched recounting of the events leading up to Krushchevs 1956 visit to the US (including the "kitchen debate" in Moscow with then vice president Nixon", the actual visit, and the follow up visit a year later when an enraged Kruschev banged his shoe at the UN and buddied up with Castro. As someone who remembers as a child sitting with my mom on the living room couch watching the cuban missile crisis speech and being terrified that we were going to be wiped out by a missile attack, I found my understanding of the times, Eisenhower and especially Krushchev greatly expanded. Who knew that Krushchev was so witty (if earthy) and quick witted?-not I, but I guess he had to be to survive as Stalin's right hand man. I especially enjoyed the incident of how the American Dental Association stood up to him and the state department overd the battle of the ballroom... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Benboy | 12/31/2013

    " hilarious and unbelievable "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 kenpen | 11/20/2013

    " What an interesting piece of history! I learned a lot about the Cold War era of the late 50s, but it wasn't dry at all. I'd definitely recommend this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David | 11/7/2013

    " Really enjoyed this book for fleshing out a time period that I have not spent a lot of time on. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marina | 10/23/2013

    " I'm almost done with this book and don't want it to end! It's non-fiction that reads like fiction - hilarious! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 L. Peat | 8/22/2013

    " Good way to read history, a book packed with fun. I laughed, I cried. Is this a great country or what? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rick Segers | 5/27/2013

    " This was a fun book that was easy to read about one of the more colorful personalities of the 20th century. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan | 5/24/2013

    " This is a hilarious and thrilling book. You never know what K will do next! I just wonder how US-Cuban relations would have turned out if K hadn't bear-hugged Castro so much at the UN in 1960? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joe Votel | 4/9/2013

    " Interesting read that highlights the early days of the cold war. Read this then read Charlie Wilson's War -- the alpha and the omega of the cold war. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel | 3/18/2013

    " Very entertaining look at the couple of visits Krushchev paid to America. I learned a lot about the cold war and laughed a lot at the ridiculousness of both sides. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marshall Moore | 2/17/2013

    " 3.5 stars round up to 4 stars so that's what I'm giving it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shannon | 11/16/2012

    " Well-researched and funny but needed editing. Some of the anecdotes were repeated, and sometimes the phrasing was clunky enough to snap me out of my groove. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Skip Knox | 9/24/2012

    " An entertaining book but a bit frothy. You won't gain any understanding of the times, but you'll hear some good stories and if you didn't know anything about the Amazing Mr K, you'll gain an appreciation for how large he loomed for us boomers. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kaye | 6/22/2012

    " Under Eisenhower, Nikita Khrushchev launches on a madcap tour of the US. Definitely a superpersonality, what happens will alternately baffle you, and make you laugh. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeffrey Cavanaugh | 5/20/2012

    " The zany, true story of Nikita Khrushchev's trip to the United States in the fall of 1959. Any lover of Cold War history and 20th-century American pop culture must read this book. Great fun! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristina | 4/10/2011

    " Loved this installment of history (Khrushchev's denied entry into Disneyland during a monumental US visit) that you don't always read about in text books. Everyone from Richard Nixon to Frank Sinatra makes a stop in this book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Skip | 10/12/2010

    " An entertaining book but a bit frothy. You won't gain any understanding of the times, but you'll hear some good stories and if you didn't know anything about the Amazing Mr K, you'll gain an appreciation for how large he loomed for us boomers. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Beau | 9/7/2010

    " One of the funniest, most interesting political books I've ever read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel | 8/4/2010

    " Very entertaining look at the couple of visits Krushchev paid to America. I learned a lot about the cold war and laughed a lot at the ridiculousness of both sides. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David | 7/31/2010

    " Really enjoyed this book for fleshing out a time period that I have not spent a lot of time on. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Josh | 7/10/2010

    " Yet more proof that I should always immediately read whatever the manager of WORD books in Brooklyn recommends. Fantastic history of Khrushchev's larger-than-life personality and bizarre tour of the US in the late 50s. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shannon | 4/17/2010

    " Well-researched and funny but needed editing. Some of the anecdotes were repeated, and sometimes the phrasing was clunky enough to snap me out of my groove. "

Write a Review
What is FlexPass?
  • Your first audiobook is just $5.95
  • Over 90% are at or below $12.95
  • "LOVE IT" guarantee
  • No time limits or expirations
About the Author

Peter Carlson is a former journalist and feature writer for the Washington Post and People magazine. He is the author of Roughneck: The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood and co-author—with Hunter S. Thompson and George Plimpton, among others—of The Gospel According to ESPN. He lives in Rockville, Maryland.

About the Narrator

Malcolm Hillgartner is an actor, author, playwright, and professional narrator. Under the name Jahnna N. Malcolm, he and his wife, Jahnna Beecham, have written over one hundred books for young readers; their musicals have played in theaters across America. His audiobook credits include works by Dean Koontz, Nelson Algren, and William F. Buckley Jr.