The Khrushchev Era
The end of the Stalin era brought immediate liberalization in several aspects of Soviet life. Party leader Nikita S. Khrushchev denounced Stalin's tyrannical reign in 1956, signaling a sharp break with the past. Because Khrushchev lacked the all-encompassing power of Stalin, his time in office was marked by continuous maneuvering against political enemies much more real than Stalin's had been. Party control of cultural activity became much less restrictive with the onset of the first "thaw" in the mid-1950s. Khrushchev attempted reforms in both domestic and foreign policy, with mixed results. During his tenure (1953-64), world politics became much more complex as the insecurities of the Cold War persisted; Khrushchev ultimately was undone by a combination of failed policy innovations in agriculture, party politics, and industry.