The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin's Russia Hardcover – Bargain Price, July 17, 2008
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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 footnotebut 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)
Tzouliadiss narrative holds the readers 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.
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 recordsthe State Department letters, the diplomatic dispatchesthat 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)
About the Author
- Hardcover : 448 pages
- Dimensions : 6.46 x 1.42 x 9.66 inches
- Publisher : Penguin Press HC, The; Book Club Edition (July 17, 2008)
- Item Weight : 1.55 pounds
- ASIN : B001QFZLPW
- Best Sellers Rank: #5,979,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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One of the main questions that emerges is was our State Department aware of what was going on? And the answer is an unequivocal yes. At the time the American Embassy was rife with those who sided with-and secretly supported--the aims, goals, methodology and ideology of the Soviet regime. Ever ready to sing paeans of praise to Stalin this cadre of communist sympathizers found a very comfortable and safe place within the American Diplomatic Corps in Moscow during the 1930’s.
Perhaps, no one is more guilty of displaying a complete contempt and disregard for the sufferings of these poor expatriated Americans than the morally bankrupt US ambassador to the Soviet Union Joseph Davies. Proud, affectatious, obsessed with image, Davies chose to look the other way as these expatriated Americans were being systematically murdered. Always ready to throw lavish parties on his yacht for the Soviet elite--replete with the most expensive champagne and caviar—Davies never missed an opportunity to extoll the virtues of Stalin.
Next to Joseph Davies, no one did more to help foster and create a glowing image of Stalin than the American newspaper journalist Will Duranty; a name that now stands preeminent in the Journalists Hall of Shame. Just like Davies, Duranty knew full well what was taking place in Soviet Russia and, just like Davies, chose to look the other way. Neither man had the courage or the resolve to bring these atrocities to light. Both were guilty of sending back idyllic reports and communiques to Roosevelt and to the American press. Which explains (at least in part) why Roosevelt was particularly soft on Soviet Russia, at least in the beginning.
Surely the men and woman who had to suffer and endure these tragic and horrific ordeals must have felt Forsaken, but thanks to Tim Tzouliadis’ book they will not forgotten.
The American press and many intellectuals promoted this vision, they themselves being utterly infatuated by the Communist hope in general and the Russian experiment in particular. For example, Walter Duranty was NY Times Moscow Bureau Chief for 14 years. He won a Pulitzer for his reporting on Russia in 1932. During most of that time he would frequently just reword Stalin's propaganda stories as news for American public under the banner of its most respected institution. He saw the vicious intentional starvation of millions of Ukrainian Soviet people and chose to report they were wildly exaggerated. He downplayed the Stalinist purge of millions, and where undeniable, apologized for them. He said Stalin's strong hand was needed because Russia was essentially an "Asiatic" culture, and it was European bias that stood against dictatorship propped up by violence when needed. Duranty had a key roll in shaping FDR's policies toward Stalin. In the end, Stalin murdered twice as many of his own civilians as even Hitler, with the tacid support or intentional blindness of the mainstream American Left.
These American immigrants to Russia became innocent pawns in all this. They were used for propaganda, some were set in fake showcase communities for naive and corrupt American press to dutifully report on back home. They set up baseball teams. Their kids were to Soviet school. But in the end the conditions of all were far worse than back home, even in the Depression. Most were not allowed to leave. Many ended up in gulags or executed.
Countless thousands were joined by American POWs of WWII inherited from the Nazis by Stalin. Many of these were never turned back over to their American allies, but were kept as resources on American culture for Sovoet spy operations, or as slave workers. Decades later Boris Yeltsin revealed this in the early 90s, but the ex-Soviet bureaucrats remained reluctant to make things right. And in any case, nearly all were long dead or untraceable by then.
This is one chapter in the incredibly vast and tragic story of Stalinist murder larger than even the Holocaust. It is rarely told. Maybe because it doesn't have the racial element of the Holocaust. Maybe because Stalin was not as flamboyant a figure as Hitler. Maybe because the American Left was so complicit in it all, and their descendants still dominate the mass media. Maybe because Stalin was a US ally in the War. Maybe because Russia was much more isolated from America than Germany and the news didn't leak out until the gulags were much smaller (they continued after 1956, but not on the same scale).
In any case, I've read a good bit on the gulags and Stalin's Russia and never heard about the baseball teams and the large number of American victims. This book does a great job of uncovering this. A little long-winded and slow, but the author is a good story-teller and a careful historian.
Top reviews from other countries
"Oh you like horses do you, we have our own cowboys, they're called Cossacks, if you all move to the USSR, we'll make sure you have your own horse".
The point of this small anecdote shows what lengths this murderous regime would go to. What would they have achieved?
hardly a great political coup. My father was an ex soldier and a farm labourer, my Russian mother an ex POW taken prisoner by the invading German Army. If as a family we had been stupid enough to take up their offer, what fate awaited us? One thing is now obvious, I and my, at that time unborn brothers, wouldn't be alive today, if my parents had gone ahead.