Following years of groundbreaking, painstaking research through archives on two continents, The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin's Russia is the resulting chapter from the little-reported pages of history of that period in which thousands of Americans, faced with a devasting Depression at home in the 1930s and lured by the power of the written word and an ideology of communism, immigrated to Stalin's Russia in search of the proverbial greener pastures. The book documents and details the background, the emigration/immigration, the tragic consequences, the complicity and the cover-up of American writers, journalists and academics, as well as the indifferences of both the Franklin Roosevelt Administration and, specifically, the State Department to history, even as it was being written.
Tim Tzouliadis, born in Athens and raised in England, is a graduate of Oxford. He pursued a career as a documentary filmmaker and television journalist; his work has appeared on NBC and the National Geographic Channel.
Written in a style sure to completely capture your interest from the first page, first sentence, you'll find it difficult, at best, to put down this riveting recount straight off the pages of history and from deep within the archives of America and Russia.
In the midst of America's deep Depression, many, searching for a better life, read an English translation of "New Russia's Primer: The Story of the Five-Year Plan," and, in the process, made it a bestseller for seven months and one of the highest selling nonfiction titles of the past decade. They not only devoured the book, believing that the grass was greener on the other side, but they implemented their thoughts with actions by immigrating to Russia to better their lives. Not only would they find the proverb to be untrue, but also, many times, they would travel the dusty highways of horror, tree-lined turnpikes of torture, and the abrasive asphalt avenues of death in their journey through truth.
Originally, "New Russia's Primer: The Story of the Five-Year Plan," had been written for schoolchildren in Russia--it offered explanations that were simple and alluring; the book's depiction of social progress and future happiness were what attracted the Depression immigrants. They read that socialism was no longer a plan, but that to create this socialistic utopia, strong hands were needed. Paucity of jobs prevailed in the USA; jobs were available and accessible in the USSR--for some, Joe Stalin's enticing invitation was simply too tough to resist--as the promise of the workers' paradise beckoned.
In the first eight months of 1931 alone, over 100,000 American applications to immigrate to the USSR were received by the Soviet trade agency in the USSR--and, for the first time, more people left the USA then arrived. That year, 10,000 Americans were hired to fill myriad occupations--they worked as plumbers, painters, barbers, cooks, clerical workers, service-station operators, carpenters, electricians, aviators, engineers, dentists, or librarians.
Some left as individuals, some were members of organizations; many brought their wives and children, albeit they were discouraged from doing so by the U.S. government.
On February 14, 1931, British journalist and New York Times correspondent Duranty called it "the greatest wave of immigration in modern history." This was the same New York Times correspondent, Walter Duranty, who is mentioned by The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, Inc., in part, in the paragraph below:
"Some prominent journalists of the time, such as New York Times correspondent Walter Duranty, aided the Soviets in concealing their crimes by proliferating their propaganda in the West and slandering those who reported on the Famine in Ukraine. Mr. Duranty was even awarded the Pulitzer Prize for `Excellence in Journalism' for his reports on the Soviet Union and its `successful development,' while in private admitting that up to 10 million people might have starved to death."
Amidst the Terror, more than anyone else, it was Walter Duranty who persuaded President Franklin Roosevelt to grant diplomatic recognition to the Soviet government. As millions were being tortured and killed, the United States was making friendly overtures to Joe Stalin while opening a U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
This gripping history, eye-opening exposé of Stalin's Russia and how a true American tragedy was seeded, concealed, and denied is detailed and documented via extensive notes (pages 365-398), bibliography (pages 399-416) and index (pages 417-436).
A note to readers: as you encounter references to Ukraine, remember that in Soviet times "the Ukraine" was in vogue among Russians while that name was being forced on the country; however, Ukraine has been independent since 1991, and the country should properly be referred to by one word, "Ukraine."
The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin's Russia documents the `little reported' history of Americans losing their lives in the Gulag. Although their stories are revealed, more important is the exposé of the complicity of American academics, journalists, and writers, who accepted and reported Stalinist propaganda--they first encouraged the immigration; later, they denied evidence of Stalin's Terror.
And, to this day, The New York Times continues to proudly display the Pulitzer Prize for `Excellence in Journalism' that was awarded to its then world-renowned reporter, Walter Duranty. Is the New York Times interested in the truth? Apparently, not--not as long as that Pulitzer remains on display. The West, through its pro-Stalin policy makers, the indifference of the State Department, the cover-up and complicity of the academics, journalists and writers, and the American policy following World War II, accommodated the Soviet's actions. This is the story of the players in and the enablers of the American tragedy.
The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin's Russia is a remarkable documentary about a topic, which until now has been little reported, little discussed--but, is, nevertheless, much needed to be told. Five stars plus for outstanding reporting--an engrossing, enthralling read sure to generate much discussion as the American tragedy and the tales of the forsaken herald truth's triumph with transparency.