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The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin's Russia 1st Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 135 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1594201684
ISBN-10: 1594201684
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--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Editorial Reviews


“In The Forsaken, Tim Tzouliadis’ clear, strong narrative discloses the terrible fates which awaited those—committed communists and apolitical innocents alike—who wandered into the Soviet sphere. Tzouliadis does not spare us the details…this grim, brilliantly told story…reads as from another time.”
The Financial Times

New York Post

“[a] gripping and important book…an extremely impressive book…The writing is crisp and fluent, and the ordinary lives of these Americans come vividly to life; but at the same time the larger political framework is always present, lucidly outlined.”
—Noel Malcolm, Telegraph (UK)

"Tim Tzouliadis's excellent tome, The Forsaken, warrants immediate attention…a remarkable account of the foreigners who worked, suffered and ultimately perished in the USSR. The grim nature of the material does not silence Tzouliadis's wonderfully descriptive voice. After a great amount of research, his is a powerful testament to the wretched unfortunates who unwillingly gave their lives for a country they, in many cases, struggled to speak the language of. An incisive and cogent read, [The Forsaken] is required reading for anyone interested in this intriguing, reprehensible and lamentable era."
Sunday Business Post (UK)

“In this spellbinding book, British writer and film-maker Tim Tzouliadis brings to life an aspect of Stalin's Terror that had been almost completely forgotten – the brutal, systematic extermination of these unlikely economic migrants from Pittsburgh and New York and Wichita, along with millions of other "enemies" of the Soviet state. As almost 100 pages of end notes attest, this is a painstakingly researched story — it must have taken the author several years to assemble all the necessary material — yet it is told with such panache that it doesn't feel the least bit dry or academic.”
The Living Scotsman (UK)

“It is not often that a new page of history is written….This book is a fine narrative, full of ironic, sometimes black humor; it is thoroughly researched, sympathetic to the victims and merciless to the perpetrators.. [a] fine and important book.”
The Literary Review (UK)

“Tim Tzouliadis, a documentary-maker whose first book this is, tells the dreadful story of what happened to these deceived emigrants with eloquence and indignation…he has organized his narrative with considerable skill, retaining his focus on the plight of these immigrants into the living hell that was the USSR…Compared with the enormous tragedy of the Russian people under Communism, this history is no more than a footnote—but it is a particularly poignant and revealing one.”
Evening Standard (UK)

“[The Forsaken] turns the spotlight on a page of Soviet history that has been ignored until now….Although familiar with the Gulag literature from Solzhenitsyn onwards, I found some of these pages impossible to read without pain, anger and astonishment.”
—Peter Lewis, Daily Mail (UK)

“Tzouliadis’s narrative…holds the reader’s attention and illuminates an overlooked chapter in 20th-century history, revealing larger trends in relations between Russia and the United States that persist today...an intriguing tale.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Their story is told with great skill and indignation missing from Western accounts of communist Russia…admirable work…The horror that was Stalinist Russia is still incomprehensible to many Americans, even to many of those who study the USSR professionally. Reading this book is certain to open their eyes.”
—Richard Pipes, The New York Sun

“A superb story, and Tzouliadis tells it well. Tzouliadis sets out to establish the existence of a significant group of Americans in the gulag, and in that he succeeds…he has painstakingly put together all of the memoirs, all of the recollections and all of the Western records—the State Department letters, the diplomatic dispatches—that are available, and has used them to tell the tragic story of the ‘least-heralded migration in American history.’”
—Anne Applebaum, The Spectator (UK)

“This is a powerful, important and highly readable book. The Gulag is no novelty, but Tzouliadis brilliantly links high politics to the torment of innocents, adding devastating detail.”
—George Walden, The Observer (UK) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Born in Athens, Timotheos Tzouliadis was raised in England. A graduate of Oxford, he subsequently pursued a career as a documentary filmmaker and television journalist whose work has appeared on NBC and National Geographic television. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 436 pages
  • Publisher: The Penguin Press; 1st edition (July 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594201684
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594201684
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #402,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Graham M. Flower on August 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book reflects a great amount of scholarship on the part of Mr Tzouliadis, he has done a remarkable job of research here to add to what is already known about the grim story of the gulags. This book is well written and engaging but it also is a fairly thorough survey of the literature on this general topic. I have discovered several good first hand sources that I did not realize existed.

This book also sheds a good amount of light on the question of why the conditions in Russia were so little known in the 1930s. Basically, once a person was inside Russia, censorship of their communication was full and these people had their passports confiscated by the Russian government so it was almost impossible to leave. The Russian government claimed that these American citizens had renounced their citizenships, resulting in the fact that the American state department was not able or very willing to help these poor people.

In addition it appears that the treaties with Russia establishing diplomatic relations were not thoroughly drafted with safeguards for the protection of American citizens in Russia. The Soviets exploited these loopholes extensively.

Mr Tzouliadis sketches in a number of missing pieces in the dynamics here. The Russian foreign ministry was deathly afraid of the NKVD, and so inquiries to the Russian foreign ministry were fruitless. The problem of helping these people could only have been addressed by the highest level of interaction meaning FDR to Stalin. However, unfortuanately one of FDR's key sources was Walter Duranty, one of the most famous newspaper reporters of his time and unfortuantely it appears that Mr Duranty was a very serious apoligist for Stalin at the very least, and quite possibly was an agent of the NKVD as some defectors have alleged.
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Format: Hardcover
I saw a review of this book in the Economist a few weeks ago, and it reminded me of a brief newspaper article I read in about 1996. It talked of thousands of US POWs who had disappeared after WW2, apparently kidnapped by the Russians. At the time I thought that was pretty big news given the uproar over the relatively small number of MIAs in Vietnam. It was just a cursory article, and when I asked around, no one seemed to know anything about it. When the Internet arrived I searched a bit, but didn't find anything much either. This review was the first time I'd seen the thing mentioned in 12 years, so I got the book immediately. It's really a brief (and in my opinion very well written) history of the gulags, with the American angle (both 30s emigrants and post-war pows) as a selling point, and as I didn't know much about the gulags either I found it fascinating from both ends. Moreover, as the reviewer from the Economist said, "the horrors of the Gulag ought to be as well known as Auschwitz, but they aren't". Hard to know if the scale of the atrocities or the general ignorance about them (notably with the Russian population now heading willingly back into a neo-Stalinist styled state) is more disturbing.
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Format: Hardcover
It is as Solzhenitsyn predicted in The Gulag Archipelago: "No, no one would have to answer. No one would be looked into." (Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956, 3:482; trans. Harry Willetts (New York: Harper and Row, 1978)). In this work, Tim Tzouliadis seeks to arouse an interest, to create an insight into the barbarities committed throughout the "socialist experiment" in Soviet Russia. Writing particularly to an American audience, Tzouliadis recounts the story of the lost thousands of American to the oppression of the Soviet state. Virtually unknown to Americans is that the existence of these thousands was well-known to U.S. government officials and journalists stationed in the Soviet Union during the 30's, 40's, 50's, and 60's, people who simply remained silent in the midst of their fellow-citizens' disappearance and murders.

This book is a primer on the brutality of the Communist regime. For those unfamiliar with this history, it is an introduction. For those who have read Anne Applebaum, Robert Conquest, Vassily Grossman, John Haynes, Harvey Klehr, Elinor Lipper, the Medvedevs (Roy and Zhores), Richard Pipes, Edward Radzinsky, Varlam Shalamov, Vitaly Shentalinsky, Dmitri Volkogonov, and, of course, Alexander Solzhenitysn, the history is not new. But, the story of Americans who once played baseball in Gorky Park only to end up executed by the gun or hard labor in Siberia is news to most.

Particularly of interest is the author's revelation of the betrayal of their fellow-citizens by government officials at the very top of the U.S. government.
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Anne Applebaum in Gulag: A History discusses briefly the issue of foreigners in the Gulag. But she does not give us a figure as to how many were there. Elsewhere stories have popped up from time to time of notable American leftists who journeyed to the Soviet Union in the 1930s and disappeared into Stalin's system. This, finally, is a full account of these people and who they were and where they came from. The author attempts to claim that many of these people were 'ordinary' but this is probably far from the truth. Many of these people were beleivers in the Communist dream, as a time when Capitalism seemed to be failing during the Great Depression. There were also hard core subversives among them, true beleivers in the Stalinist ideology who were 'returning home' to fight for COmmunism. In the supreme irony many of these higher minded intellectuals who hated American, found that the USSR was capable of doing things ten times worse to them than the U.S would ever imagine doing to Communist radicals. THey were rounded up when they tried to have outbursts of free speech, they were beaten, raped and placed on trains to the East. Once there they were worked to death. Few survived. As foreigners they were especially suspect as Stalin's grip became even more paranoid. Americans were imprisoned along with many other people from all over the world who had come to experience the 'Socialist utopia'. These poor people were not the only one's taken in. The New York Times came to Russia in the period and wrote a glowing peice about the miracle of Stalin's Russia. It has taken 70 years for these stories to come to light. It is a pleasure to read this wonderful and important account of these lives who were shattered.

Seth J. Frantzman
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