Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1971) started his career as a faithful follower of the murderous Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. After Stalin's death in 1953, Khrushchev took over as Communist Party Chairman and gradually consolidated his power by pushing aside other Kremlin leaders. In 1956 he denounced Stalin, condemning Stalin's brutalities and crimes against his people (even though Khrushchev himself had been involved in carrying some of them out).
Khrushchev brought some moderation to the Soviet system and made attempts to diminish the hostility between his country and the United States. He was smart, though uneducated, and was noted for his colorful behavior—he infamously removed his shoe and banged it on the table during a United Nations session and famously boasted to the West, "We will bury you." He was ousted from power in 1964 following his perceived defeat in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.