Monday, 10 August 2009

The Forsaken

by Kathryn Hadley

The Forsaken by Tim Tzouliadis was published in paperback at the end of last week by Abacus. The book was the winner of the 2008 Longman/History Today Book of the Year award. Every year since 1994 History Today has presented the award in conjunction with the publisher Longman in memory of History Today’s co-founding editors Peter Quennell and Alan Hodge. This year’s judges were Professor Miri Rubin of Queen Mary, University of London, Professor Jeremy Black of University of Exeter, Taylor Downing, a documentary film-maker and historian and Peter Furtado, former editor of History Today.

‘I am in jail in Russia. Go to the nearest police station and report it. Matter of dead or live. Save me please and all the others.’

The author discovered this plea inscribed on a wooden tag smuggled out of a Soviet Gulag camp whilst carrying out research in a State Department Archive. Based on official records, memoirs, newspaper reports and interviews, The Forsaken describes the fate of the thousands of Americans who, in the 1930s in the depths of the Great Depression, emigrated to the communist Soviet Union, lured by the prospect of racial equality and honest work under Stalin’s Five Year Plan. They were, however, betrayed both by Stalin’s Russia and by their own countrymen, when the US embassy failed to protect US citizens caught up in the Terror.
For further information read the review by Taylor Downing published in the March issue of History Today.


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