The Forsaken

The Forsaken

An American Tragedy in Stalin's Russia

Book - 2008
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A remarkable piece of forgotten historyathe 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 anotheras 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 AmericaaDetroit, 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 ofStalinas Terror, some will be executed immediately in basement cells or at execution grounds outside the main cities. Others will be sent to the acorrective labora 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 mensa livesaThe 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.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2008.
ISBN: 9781594201684
1594201684
Branch Call Number: 947.00413 TZ
Characteristics: p. cm.

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StarGladiator
Mar 15, 2013

How in creation can the commenter, echobravo below, segue from mass murdering Josef Stalin to populist leader Hugo Chavez (who gloriously battled against the oligarchs of that country, withstanding multiple assassination and coup attempts by the US government (the second time, they temporarily replaced President Chavez with the chairman of the Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce, for godsakes!!!) is an indicator of the depravity extant among today's thoroughly indoctrinated American consumers , and they most definitely aren't citizens) and Mao was the almost logically predictable result from the collective imperial onslaught China dealt with for so long -- blame the colonialists, consumer! Good book, though.

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echobravo
Mar 15, 2013

Excellent book as others wrote. I keep coming back to the idea of the survivors promising (themselves and others) to tell the story if they ever made it out alive - and me reading their testimony. Everyone should know this history as much as we learn about the Holocaust by the Nazis.

And perhaps moreso since Stalin's mass murder was mostly inflicted on his own people within his own borders - it didn't require a war of aggression. Is a tyrannical leader in your won country more dangerous than an invader?

It has always galled me to hear people even in 2012/2013 to speak favorably of Mao, our Lenin statue in Fremont, wailing at the death of Hugo Chavez - all fellow travelers of Stalin even if not as prolific in their murder and tyranny.

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bunnyhead
Dec 26, 2011

I would agree with Slavomir. This book is outstanding--although it was one of the most grim history books I've ever read. It's a fascinating story that kept me hooked all the way through, and it made me feel compassion for the Americans who, in their desperation to find work during the Great Depression, were fooled by propaganda with tragic results.

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