Synopses & Reviews
A remarkable piece of forgotten historythe story of how thousands of Americans were lured to Soviet Russia by the promise of jobs and better lives only to meet a tragic, and until now forgotten, end
The Forsaken starts with a photograph of a baseball team. The year is 1934, the image black and white: two rows of young men, one standing, the other crouching with their arms around one anothers shoulders. They are all somewhere in their late teens or twenties, in the peak of health. We know most, if not all, of their names: Arthur Abolin, Walter Preeden, Victor Herman, Eugene Peterson. They hail from ordinary working families from across AmericaDetroit, Boston, New York, San Francisco. Waiting in the sunshine, they look just like any other baseball team except, perhaps, for the Russian lettering on their uniforms.
These men and thousands of others, their wives, and children were possibly the least heralded migration in American history. Not surprising, maybe, since in a nation of immigrants few care to remember the ones who leave behind the dream. The exiles came from all walks of life. Within their ranks were Communists, trade unionists, and radicals of the John Reed school, but most were just ordinary citizens not overly concerned were politics. What united them was the hope that drives all emigrants: the search for a better life. And to any one of the millions of unemployed Americans during the Great Depression, even the harshest Moscow winter could sustain that promise.
Within four years of that June day in Gorky Park, many of the young men in that photograph will be arrested and along with them unaccounted numbers of their fellow countrymen. As foreign victims of Stalins Terror, some will be executed immediately in basement cells or at execution grounds outside the main cities. Others will be sent to the corrective labor camps, where they will be starved and worked to death, their bodies buried in the snowy wasteland. Two of the baseball players who survive and whose stories frame this remarkable work of history will be inordinately lucky. This book is the story of these mens livesThe Forsaken who lived and those who died.
The result of years of groundbreaking research in American and Russian archives, The Forsaken is also the story of the world inside Russia at the time of Terror: the glittering obliviousness of the U.S. embassy in Moscow, the duplicity of the Soviet government in its dealings with Roosevelt, and the terrible finality of the Gulag system. In the tradition of the finest history chronicling genocide in the twentieth century, The Forsaken offers new understanding of timeless questions of guilt and innocence that continue to plague us today.
"The strength of this history lies in the compelling stories it tells about the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Americans who moved to the Soviet Union only to be imprisoned or killed by the Communist state. Many of those tracked by documentary filmmaker and television journalist Tzouliadis came to the Soviet Union during the Depression seeking economic opportunity or because they believed in Communist ideology. After a quick romance, the harsh reality set in as they were sent to languish or die in Stalin's prison camps. When Tzouliadis focuses on individual stories, such as that of Thomas Sgovio, who was imprisoned for almost a quarter-century before being allowed to return to the West, his words leap off the page. Too often, however, he veers away from his main subject with criticism of American journalists, ambassadors, artists and fellow travelers such as Paul Robeson and Walter Duranty who were either taken in by Soviet propaganda or willing to overlook state brutality. These stories have been told elsewhere and with more nuance, and here they detract from what is otherwise a captivating history. (July 21)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In The Forsaken
, Tim Tzouliadis clear, strong narrative discloses the terrible fates which awaited thosecommitted communists and apolitical innocents alikewho 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 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)
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
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)
" The horror that was Stalinist Russia is still incomprehensible to many Americans . . . Reading this book is certain to open their eyes."
-Richard Pipes, The New York Sun
" Gripping and important . . . an extremely impressive book."
-Noel Malcolm, Telegraph (London)
" Tzouliadis's clear, strong narrative discloses the terrible fates which awaited those . . . who wandered into the Soviet sphere. . . . [A] grim, brilliantly told story."
Tzouliadis presents this remarkable piece of forgotten history--the story of how thousands of Americans were lured to Soviet Russia by the promise of jobs and better lives only to meet a tragic and, until now, forgotten end.
A remarkable piece of forgotten history- the never-before-told story of Americans lured to Soviet Russia by the promise of jobs and better lives, only to meet tragic ends
In 1934, a photograph was taken of a baseball team. These two rows of young men look like any group of American ballplayers, except perhaps for the Russian lettering on their jerseys. The players have left their homeland and the Great Depression in search of a better life in Stalinist Russia, but instead they will meet tragic and, until now, forgotten fates. Within four years, most of them will be arrested alongside untold numbers of other Americans. Some will be executed. Others will be sent to "corrective labor" camps where they will be worked to death. This book is the story of lives-the forsaken who died and those who survived.
Based on groundbreaking research, The Forsaken is the story of Americans whose dreams were shattered and lives lost in Stalinist Russia.
About the Author
Born in Athens, Timotheos Tzouladis 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. He lives in London.