Eugene Lyons in 1940.
Eugene Lyons (July 1, 1898 – January 7, 1985) was an American journalist and writer. A fellow traveler of Communism in his younger years, Lyons became highly critical of the Soviet Union after several years there as a correspondent of United Press International. Lyons also wrote a biography of President Herbert Hoover.
1.1 Early years
1.2 Moscow years
1.3 Return to America
1.4 Death and legacy
4 External links
Eugene Lyons was born July 1, 1898, to a Jewish family in the town of Uzlyany, now part of Belarus but then part of the Russian empire. His parents were Nathan Lyons and Minnie Privin. His parents emigrated to the U.S., and he grew up among the teeming tenements of the Lower East Side of New York City.
“I thought myself a ‘socialist’ almost as soon as I thought at all,” Lyons recalled in his memoirs. As a youth he attended a Socialist Sunday School on East Broadway, where he sang socialist hymns such as “The Internationale” and “The Red Flag.” He later enrolled as a member of the Young People’s Socialist League, the youth section of the Socialist Party of America (SPA).
In 1916, Lyons enrolled in the College of the City of New York before transferring to Columbia University the next year. During his school years he worked as an assistant to an English teacher in an adult education course.
During World War I, Lyons was enlisted in the Students Army Training Corps, an adjunct of the United States Army. With the end of the war in November 1918, Lyons was demobilized and honorably discharged. He later recalled that on the day he removed his uniform, he wrote his very first story, a piece for Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and the Workers Defense Union, which she organized on behalf of the Industrial Workers of the World. Lyons worked for the Workers Defense Union for some time, composing news releases for the Socialist daily newspaper New York Call and other left wing publications. “It was a time of raids on radicals, ‘Treat-’em-rough!’ hooliganism, and mass deportations,” Lyons later recalled.
Lyons then went to work as a reporter for the Erie, Pennsylvania Dispatch-Herald. He also worked briefly for the New York paper Financial America and at writing copy in the publicity departments of two motion picture companies.
In the fall of 1920, with revolution in the wind in Italy and dreaming of becoming the next John Reed, Lyons mad