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The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin's Russia

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  383 ratings  ·  89 reviews
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 lef
Paperback, 448 pages
Published June 30th 2009 by Penguin Books (first published July 17th 2007)
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The Forsaken by Tim Tzouliadis is an important and tragic piece of history.

This is an extremely well researched book and tells the forgotten and relatively unknown story of families who emigrate to Russia from America during the era of the American Depression in the hope of a new life only to become victims of Stalin's terror during his 5 year plan in which millions of Russians and thousands of Americans are brutally interrogated and either assassinated or sent to Gulags in Siberia. We learn of
Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont
The other Joads

Many people will be familiar with the story of the Joad family from John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath, the great epic of the Great Depression in America, or from the film of the same name directed by John Ford and starring Henry Fonda as Tom Joad. Tom and his family are dirt poor ‘Okies’, who escape from Oklahoma’s ever expanding Dust Bowl, moving west to California in search of a better life. Instead they are met with hostility and exploitation.

The Joads were lucky. Th
My dad, when I was a kid, used to refer to Joseph Davies, America's 2nd Ambassador to the Soviet Union and native of our hometown, as a "communist." As I got older, I used to chalk this up to a latent McCarthyism within him, but Tzouliadis has helped me understand better something I think my dad knew about: American complicity with the rise of Josef Stalin in the 1930s.
Davies, among others, stands out in this book as the poster child for a quiet admiration held by many in the American government
The full title of this excellent book is "The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin's Russia". It's a very readable non-fiction account of the lives of the many Americans who emigrated to the USSR during the Great Depression. In the 1930's the US was going through an enormous economic decline and rampant unemployment. The USSR seemed attractive to many Americans: the country was stabilizing after the October Revolution, in the middle of what was considered a grand social experiment - the first ...more
Elizabeth Scott
I knew I wanted to read this after all those books about Tatiana and Alexander by Paullina Simons, and although it took me a while to find it (someone's TBR pile is, um, a little large), I did!

For some reason, probably because a Motel T is on the cover, I thought it was about Ford workers who moved to the USSR and disappeared during Stalin's decades-long Terror. But instead, Tzouliadias provides a comprehensive overview of the many Americans--some Communists committed to Stalin's cause, some si
This is a book that every American school student should read. It will show them that their government was complicit with the Soviet Union in the imprisonment, torture and murder of thousands of American citizens. There were many American service members who were captured in Korea during the Korean War who were sent into the Soviet Gulag system and never returned.

Rick Hautala
Like the blurb says: "A remarkable piece of forgotten history ..." How thousandsof Americans were lured to the Soviet Union during the (first) GreatDepression and then how so many of them (including many Finns) were "disappeared" during Stalin's Terror ... Absolutely riveting story!
For those who want their history to be as fast-paced and fasciating as a best seller...

This is a story about a little-known group of emigrants - the thousands of Americans who travelled to the USSR in the 30's to escape the Depression and become part of the first Communist Revolution to build a new society. Although many went for ideological reasons, others went for the promise of guaranteed employment and a new life.

Tzouliadis details the saga of these Americans who became labeled as "Enemies o
Margaret Sankey
This is the overlooked story of Americans, particularly African-Americans, who left tinderbox cities like Detroit in the 1920s to work in a Soviet-Ford joint plant. They taught the Russians baseball and some married Russians, and then they got sucked into the storm of purges and gulags after Lenin's death as western agents, or just disposable outsiders. One man's life is a catalog of catastrophe--burned out of his Detroit house, arrested as a spy in 1926, rehabilitiated to work as an engineer, a ...more
This book chronicles a sad portion of American history: the fate of Americans who, desperate for work during the Great Depression, emigrated to the Soviet Union. Although they led productive lives in the beginning, eventually, they were forced to relinquish their American passports, and hundreds of them were among the 19 million + people imprisoned and/or the 7 million + people executed during Stalin's reign of terror. Sadly, sometimes through fear, sometimes through willful denial, and sometime ...more
Excellent book. Well-written, good pacing, a nice mix of personal history and general history. The author is primarily concerned with Americans imprisoned by the Soviet gulag, which probably amounted to thousands of them over a several decades, if not tens of thousands. Many of those Americans unjustly imprisoned freely moved to Russia for work during the Great Depression. Most of them never came back. Other Americans include military personnel from WWII.

But the author also discusses the politi
Howard Olsen
An incredible book about Americans who found themselves caught up in the Soviet Gulag, a phenomenon that has largely been lost to history (although authors like Whittaker Chambers and IB Singer mentioned it). Hard as it might be to believe, thousands of American leftists moved to the Soviet Union in the Thirties, convinced it would be the vanguard of the future. Instead, they found a cruel, paranoid totalitarian state that would eventually arrest and kill them all. There are very few happy endin ...more
Anyone who tries to defend the policies and history of Trotsky, Lenin, or Stalin has no credibility and doesn't know what they are talking about. Trust me, I've done my homework on these things. Don't believe me--take a look at my reading list. Soviet Communism is just like the modern day Republican Party--it had principles that aren't practical, it was full of illusions and broken dreams, it was full of talking heads like Glen Beck, Rush Bimbaugh, and inevitably Soviet Communism led to a crisis ...more
Professor Harvey Klehr has chosen to discuss Tim Tzouliadis’s The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin’s Russia, on FiveBooks as one of the top five on his subject - Communism in America, saying that:

"This is a fairly recent book which is wonderful and very depressing. It is an account of a large number of Americans who were living in Russia in the 1930s. Many of these people were caught up in the purge trials and hundreds of them were killed..."

The full interview is available here: http://th
This should be required reading! I did not learn about this in any of my history classes, but most likely because it hasn't been known -- or rather accepted -- until recently. I knew Stalin was evil; I just didn't understand the depth and breadth of it until reading this book. It was difficult to read at times and very difficult to understand how this could have happened. Hitler and his concentration camps killed 6 million people. Stalin and his gulag "labor camps" killed nearly 3 times that
Reveals the fascinating and little-known phenomenon of Depression-era Americans moving to the Soviet Union and ending up trapped in a Stalinist hell. The author unearths the stories of these forgotten individuals, and lambastes the Americans who facilitated their tortures. Ambassador Joseph Davies actually proclaimed that Stalin's show trials were legitimate. Many Americans were arrested by the secret police literally right outside of the embassy, having been turned away after seeking help. Paul ...more
One of the best, most important books I've ever read. It should be required reading in all US classrooms to explain why we fought the Cold War and why we continue to fight for freedom today. Many people, some avowed communists, some just looking for work ventured to the "Worker's Paradise" the USSR during the Great Depression most never to be seen of or heard from again, worked to death in Stalin's gulags. All but abandoned by the US, their story is truly important, and a vivid lesson as to why ...more
Thomas Clark
This book was an eye-opener for me. I was amazed that nearly 10,000 depression-era autoworkers became expatriates to Stalin's Russia, following political idealism in order to establish automotive plants and worker communities in the Soviet Union, yet becoming political pawns completely abandoned by the U.S. as nearly all were consumed by Stalin's gulags. This is the most fascinating book I've read in years, with remarkable parallels to modern political-industrial situations.
Annie Oosterwyk
This book shows yet another side of the Soviet genocide during the 1930s-1950s. The focus here is on the Americans who emigrated to the Soviet Union during the Great Depression, either for economic or social reasons.
Stalin began to purge the Soviet Union of any dissent, real or imagined, and the Americans were included in the arrests, executions and camp assignments. The author makes it clear that the embassy could and would do nothing to help and the US Government was too preoccupied with war
Oh my gosh! This is a heavily documented book telling of the well-concealed history of the fate of thousands of American families who were lured Eastward, to Russia, during the Great Depression. Henry Ford set up shop there and that industry, along with many others, brought jobless Americans eagerly anticipating a good job at the least, and an Utopian Society at the most in this new order under the mighty Joseph Stalin. (Stalin actually ran adds in American newspapers enticing people to come to ...more
Molly Southwick
So that prisons should vanish forever, we built new prisons...So that work should become a rest and a pleasure, we introduced forced labor. So that not one drop of blood be shed any more, we killed and killed and killed.
Andrei Sinyavsky, On Socialist Realism.

This book was eye opening as was this quote, which sheds a TRUE light on socialism.
This is really a four and a half star book. It is a VERY interesting book, and one that I highly recommend. It is difficult to read, as the subject matter is SO sad, but it is important that we learn from this horrible time in our world's history. I had no idea that American government knew so much about it. A highly informative book.
This book was amazingly insightful, heartbreaking and inspiring all at the same time. It delved into a part of history I had never heard of ever in my life. I have obviously heard of genocidal autocracies before, but what happened in the Gulags brought that to a whole new level. An amazing read
Paul Pessolano
"The Forsaken" is a highly unusual fact of history that most of us probably were totally unaware of. The story has its beginnings during the depression and continues to the late 1960's.

American workers were needed in Russia to fill in technical positions in the startup factories, especially the Ford Motor Company plant. They were enticed with better living conditions, jobs, and money.

Those who made the move, and there were thousands, found that most of the promises were just that - promises. Man
I keep meaning to write a review of this amazing book but obviously took way too long (over a year) to get to this point. The more this book swims around in my mind the more I believe this is one of the best 20th century American history books written.

First, this book will absolutely stun you by the core tragedy of poor, out of work, depression era American workers being lured to the Soviet Union to help Stalin build the perfect society. Communism in America was pretty strong at that time (1932-
Michael Flanagan
Scarier than any Orwellian novel, The Forsaken takes us on a journey into the terror that was unleashed upon Russia by Stalin. The author follows the Americans that were lured to the USSR by the promise of a better life, free from the depression that was paralysing America at the time. For a while their life was good and all that was promised to them seemed within reach. Then Russia was plunged into the Terror where you could trust no one not even your children.

The Americans soon found themselve
This is one of the most incredible books every written. It is a story of unspeakable tragedy. In 1932 for the first time in our nation's history more Americans left America than immigrated to America. This was during the depression and the Soviet Union advertised in American newspapers offering top wages, free medical care and free housing. Once these tens of thousands arrived their passports were confiscated, many were arrested, executed outright, tortured or sent to concentration camps where t ...more
William Dearth
If you have read "Journey Into the Whirlwind" by Eugenia Ginzburg or "The Great Terror: A Reassessment" by Robert Conquest you are probably familiar with the mass murder of 20,000,000 people during the Joseph Stalin regime and even after. You may not be familiar with systematic murder of three generations of Americans that numbered in the thousands.

This book does not illicit shock as much as disgust at how lame the U.S. government was under FDR and yes, even later U.S. administrations. Some may
I found this book quite interesting simply because I had never heard about immigration to USSR from the USA during Stalin's horrific reign on the Soviet Union. But what is more shocking is how America didn't save many of their citizens in fear of offending the USSR. I don't think America was the only one most Europeans countries also fed their people to the lions. And I simply pick out the USA because this is what the book is centered upon. Lets hope they pick better ambassador's for the USA now ...more
Jason Fish
I read this book at request of my grandmother who remarkably survived a GULAG in the 1940's. Before reading this book, I naively would tell my grandmother, "At least you weren't in a German camp." In response she said that Russian GULAGs were at times worse, which I apprehensively wouldn't believe. After reading this book I can now truly sympathize with my grandmother, and I am significantly more knowledgable about the enigma, which is the Soviet Union.

This is truly a horrific part of human his
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