Stalin’s Apologist by S. J. Taylor

Stalin’s Apologist by S. J. Taylor – Walter Duranty: The New York Times’s Man in Moscow – is, in itself an apology to Duranty, which was rather unpleasant to read.

It’s a dry book, the author talks about other people, and has the imperialistic views that take centre stage in coverage of Eastern and Northern Europe. For example:
“For the time being the Soviets’ pact with the Germans ostracized them from the Allies, and a series of moves by the Red Army increased their unpopularity in the West. The Soviets had occupied parts of eastern Poland, and they now signed “mutual assistance pacts” with the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, agreements that would eventually lead to the occupation of those countries by Soviet troops. The Red Army turned next toward Finland, demanding that the Finns move their boundary some twenty miles farther away from Leningrad in exchange for Soviet territory elsewhere, so that the Soviets could build defence bases. When the Finnish government rejected the deal in late autumn of 1939, the Red Army invaded. Surprisingly, they met with fierce resistance from the Finns, leading to early reverses. This in turn led to the widespread belief that, if the Soviets ever did engage in warfare with Germany, they wouldn’t last long.
The invasion of Finland was considered to be even more serious a breach than the Russo-German pact, and major Western news organizations began pulling their men out of Moscow as a kind of protest against the action. They had other reasons as well for withdrawing the newsmen, one of the most serious the growing severity of the censorship.” (page 283, my bold)

So, it’s surprising that the Finns actually defended their land and their homes?! What’s surprising in that?! Also, the soviets would have been defeated by the Germans without the substantial support given by US and its allies.

Stalin's Apologist by S. J. Taylor

Another gem, at page 305: “He [Duranty] also raised a valid question, that of bias in the reporting of the Western newspapers, which showed a tendency, he said, to acquire and publish only what was being suppressed in the countries they were reporting.”

So, this reporter was eating caviar and partying with women in moscow while millions of people were dying of hunger in Ukraine and other parts, like rural russia. He was reading the newspapers published by the moscow regime, was writing some sort of reporting, who was approved by russian censors, before being sent to The New York Times to be published. Duranty was the same who attacked Gareth Jones who was reporting the reality on the ground. So, this is the person who, in the author’s view, was raising genuine questions about censorship?!

The personal aspects are these whitewashed too. His relations with women and with his son in moscow are viewed as if it was perfectly morally acceptable. Unless you are studying this period, there is little point of reading the book.

Stalin’s Apologist by S. J. Taylor

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 3/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: not really
Published by: Oxford University Press
Year it was published: 1990
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): Biography
Pages: 432

About the author: S.J. Taylor is a writer living in London.
Website & Social Media Links: –

2 thoughts on “Stalin’s Apologist by S. J. Taylor”

    • The book is from 1990, but it could have been less dry. Also, I was so annoyed with some of the things in the book that it would have never been more than a 3 stars for me. Anyway, it’s a book for my studies, so I would recommend it only to those who are studying the topic. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.