Khrushchev’s 1959 trip across America was one of the strangest exercises in international diplomacy ever conducted. He told jokes, threw tantrums, sparked a riot in a San Francisco supermarket, wowed coeds in an Iowa home-economics class, and ogled Shirley MacLaine. He befriended and offended a cast of characters including Nelson Rockefeller and Marilyn Monroe.
The trip took place in the 50s, 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 with the power to incinerate America.