William F. Buckley Jr., Nikita Khrushchev, and Nina Khrushcheva

3 mins read

Nina L. Khrushcheva (Photo courtesy of Professor Khrushcheva)

In 1959, Nikita Khrushchev, the boss of the Soviet Union, was about to visit the United States, at the invitation of President Eisenhower. WFB (William F. Buckley Jr., National Review’s founder) objected to this. Indeed, he organized a protest rally at Carnegie Hall, at which he gave a soon-famous speech.

National Review also put out a bumper sticker: Khrushchev Not Welcome Here.

Flash forward to the mid ’90s. Nina Khrushcheva, Khrushchev’s granddaughter, is a grad student at Princeton. She spots one of the bumper stickers on the door of an antique shop. She asks to buy it. The owners say no. It is in a metal frame, and it is not for sale. It is a fixture of the entrance. “But if Khrushchev himself walked in,” they joked, “we would sell it to him!” Nina responded, “Well, Khrushchev is here, in a way!” They did not believe her.

She wrote an article about this amusing episode — her first-ever article. She submitted it to the New York Times. They did not accept it. But the Trenton Times did.

Later, Khrushcheva received a package in the mail: The antique shop was giving her the bumper sticker.

Flash forward again, to the early 2000s. Nina meets Bill at an event, and he, typically, invites her to come see him in his office. They have a long talk — mainly about Vladimir Nabokov, about whom Nina was writing, and who had been a friend of Bill’s, and a neighbor of his in Switzerland.

Switzerland, Bill tells Nina, is “the antechamber to heaven.”

Nina Khrushcheva talks about all this — and much more of interest — in Part II of our Q&A, here.

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