cover image The World I Left Behind:: Pieces of a Past

The World I Left Behind:: Pieces of a Past

Luba Brezhneva. Random House (NY), $25 (392pp) ISBN 978-0-679-43911-0

Brezhneva romanticizes herself as an enfant terrible, but readers are likely to consider her merely a spoiled brat. Born in 1943 and raised by her mother and stepfather in the Ukraine, she's the daughter of Leonid Brezhnev's brother, Yakov, who brought her into nomenklatura circles when she became a student in Moscow in 1964. And it's the nomenklaturas' lifestyle that frames her memoirs, an expose of their boozing and womanizing. Brezhneva is also outraged about having been harassed by the KGB, especially after Khrushchev's ouster, which she claims was masterminded by her uncle and her father. As the author tells it, she lived in a spiritual wasteland: her father, corrupted by being ``Brezhnev's Brother,'' became an alcoholic and influence peddler; her aunt Viktoriya, the general secretary's wife, was a materialistic intriguer, their son and daughter hedonists. Leonid, a ``decent, caring man,'' frequently sheds tears over his family in these pages. If much of Brezhneva's story is familiar, it's not without interest as an insider's account. Photos not seen by PW. (July)