This essay draws on Brezhnev’s unpublished diaries to argue that, despite the role that speech and ghost writers played in crafting Brezhnev’s public addresses and ‘autobiographical’ accounts, he believed unconditionally in peace and saw himself as its architect. In short, Leonid Ilich nurtured the propaganda image of him as man of peace because, at heart, he was. His diaries, I contend, make that clear.
A native of Chicago, Donald J. Raleigh graduated from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, and completed his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at Indiana University, Bloomington. He began his teaching career at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, before accepting an appointment in 1988 at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he is the Jay Richard Judson Distinguished Professor of Russian History. He has authored, translated, and edited numerous books on modern Russian history including Revolution on the Volga (1986), Experiencing Russia’s Civil War (2002), and Soviet Baby Boomers (2012), which was short listed for the Pushkin House Prize in Great Britain. In collaboration with three Russian colleagues, he currently is editing Soviet leader Leonid Ilich Brezhnev’s diaries and working notebooks for publication and is working on a biography of Brezhnev.