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.)
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.