Assignment in Utopia

Front Cover
Transaction Publishers, 1938 - History - 658 pages

This is a story of belief, disillusionment and atonement. Long identified with leftist causes, the journalist Eugene Lyons was by background and sentiment predisposed to early support of the Russian Revolution. A "friendly correspondent," he was one of a coterie of foreign journalists permitted into the Soviet Union during the Stalinist era because their desire to serve the revolution was thought to outweigh their desire to serve the truth. Lyons first went to the Soviet Union in 1927, and spent six years there. He was there as Stalin consolidated his power, through collectivization and its consequences, as the cultural and technical intelligentsia succumbed to the secret police, and as the mechanisms of terror were honed. As Ellen Frankel Paul notes in her major new introduction to this edition, "It was this murderous reality that Stalin's censors worked so assiduously to camouflage, corralling foreign correspondents as their often willing allies." Lyons was one of those allies.

Assignment in "Utopia "describes why he refused to see the obvious, the forces that kept him from writing the truth, and the tortuous path he traveled in liberating himself. His story helps us understand how so many who were in a position to know were so silent for so long. In addition, it is a document, by an on-the-scene journalist, of major events in the critical period of the first Five-Year Plan.

As Ellen Frankel Paul notes in her major new introduction to this new edition, Assignment in "Utopia "is particularly timely. The system it dissects in such devastating detail is in the process of being rejected throughout Eastern Europe and is under challenge in the Soviet Union itself. The book lends insight into the "political pilgrim" phenomenon described by Paul Hollander, in which visitors celebrate terrorist regimes, seemingly oblivious to their destructive force. The book is valuable for those interested in the Stalinist era in the Soviet Union, those interested in radical regimes and political change, as well as those interested in better understanding current events in Europe. It will also be useful for the tough questions it poses about journalistic ethics.

 

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Contents

Revolt Against Ugliness
3
The Clowning Called Justice
12
On the Eve of Fascism
21
I Defend Sacco and Vanzetti
29
Working for the Soviets
37
Moscow and Muscovites
53
The Kremlins Guests and Poor Relations
66
Nep Burlesque on Capitalism
79
Fortyeight Ghosts
347
Rasstrel
360
Death to Wreckers
368
An Interview with Stalin
379
American Interlude
391
Socialism Revised
411
Bernard Shaw in Moscow
426
Ambulance and MotorCars
434

Hallelujah
91
Censorship
103
Demonstration Trial
112
Journey Through Russia
132
Iron Monolith
145
Savor of Life
155
Life is Rationed
168
Social Slag
181
The Great Break
194
Accent of Moscow
210
Picnicking in a Graveyard
224
Two Plus Two Equals Five
238
The War Nobody Knew
248
Stalin Launches a Slogan
261
The Peasants Are Conquered
277
We Move to a Mansion
291
Locomotives Come to Central Asia
302
Search for the Real Russia
318
Bargains in Ideals and Omelettes
326
Revolt Against Intelligence
339
Gold Mining in Torture Chambers
445
Culture in a Straitjacket
463
Fog of Skepticism over Russia
472
Planned Chaos
480
The End of RAPP
492
Living Space
501
American Tragedies
517
Persian Entracte
529
Upon Sodom and Gomorrah Brimstone and Fire
538
Did the First Five Year Plan Succeed?
550
Britishers on Trial
557
The Press Corps Conceals a Famine
568
Forebodings
577
My Recall from Moscow
587
Farewell to Russia
596
A Tour of Tyrannies
606
To Tell or Not to Tell
620
Adventure in Idealism
633
Index
645
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Page xxiii - The sufferings that are endured patiently, as being inevitable, become intolerable the moment it appears that there might be an escape.

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