"The Kremlin's Scholar" by Dmitrii Shepilov

The Kremlin's Scholar A Memoir of Soviet Politics Under Stalin and Khrushchev Dmitrii Shepilov, Stephen V. Bittner, Anthony Austin

Publication date:
01 Apr 2014
Yale University Press
480 pages: 235 x 156 x 33mm
9 b-w h-t in an 8-page text gallery


Dmitrii Shepilov (1905-1995), a prominent Soviet leader and member of the Communist Party elite, rose to power under Joseph Stalin in the 1940s and 1950s, then fell into political disgrace after being implicated in a coup attempt against Nikita Khrushchev in 1957. In this remarkable memoir, Shepilov provides an unparalleled account of Soviet politics during this period, as well as first-hand recollections of prominent political leaders including Stalin, Khrushchev, Mao Zedong, Lavrentii Beria, Andrei Zhdanov, and others.
Secretary of the Central Committee, editor in chief of Pravda, and director of the Communist Party’s Bureau of Propaganda and Agitation, Shepilov tells his story from the perspective of a true insider. His memoir sheds new light on Soviet relations with China, the aborted coup against Khrushchev, the personal rivalries that drove high-level Soviet politics, and much more. His report—dramatic, opinionated, and engaging—is an important addition to the history of his sparsely documented era.

Stephen V. Bittner is assistant professor of history at Sonoma State University. He lives in Santa Rosa, CA. Anthony Austin is retired senior editor for the New York Times Magazine and former Moscow correspondent for the New York Times. He lives in Palo Alto, CA.

“This is an astounding work.  It fascinates, serving as an outstanding example of the political memoir and a window onto the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the project to which its author dedicated his life.”­—Lewis Siegelbaum, author of Stalinism as a Way of Life: A Documentary Narrative


"This memoir offers fresh insights into what went on behind the Kremlin walls. A professional propagandist and editor, Dmitrii Shepilov was, by the standards of the power élite, an intellectual. He saw himself as an idealist who fell into bad company. His professed disillusionment with the thuggery, rivalries, and conspiracies that roiled around him makes for a rare perspective on a crucial phase of Soviet history.”—Strobe Talbott, President, The Brookings Institution