John L. Spivak

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John Louis Spivak

John Louis Spivak (June 13, 1897 - September 30, 1981), was a Jewish-American communist reporter and Soviet propagandist.

Early life and career

As a boy Spivak worked in a number of industrial factories in his hometown of New Haven, Connecticut. He landed his first job as a reporter for the New Haven Union. He moved to New York where he worked at the Morning Sun, Evening Graphic, and The Call, the paper of the American Socialist Party. His first major story came when he covered the West Virginia coal strikes that broke out after the end of World War I. [1]He then served briefly as a reporter and bureau chief in Berlin and Moscow for the International News Service. [2]Upon his return to the United States, he became a feature writer for leftist newspapers and magazines such as the Communist Party USA's Daily Worker, Ken, and the New Masses.[3] American Conservative writer Phillip Jenkins states Spivak was an operative of the Soviet NKVD.[4]

Spivak traveled throughout the South in the early 1930s interviewing prison camp officials and photographing camp conditions. His novel, Georgia Nigger, depicting the brutality of peonage farms and chain gangs, was serialized in the Daily Worker.[5]

Accusations of 'Business Plot'

His 1935 exposé in the communist party's The New Masses charged a congressional committee with deliberately suppressing evidence of an offer made to Maj. Gen. Smedley D. Butler by Wall Street financiers and rich American Jews to lead a military coup against the U.S. government and replace it with a fascist regime.[6] Most historians are skeptical about the alleged plot.


As a writer whom fellow muckraker Lincoln Steffens described as "the best of us," he also investigated the anti-Semitic and financial activities of Charles E. Coughlin, the Catholic radio priest who founded the Shrine of the Little Flower in Royal Oak, Michigan.[7] Most of Spivak's work, however, was dedicated to supporting communism, exposing capitalism, fascism and underground German spy groups in Central America, Europe, and the U.S.[8]

With the rise of McCarthyism, Spivak spent much of the 1950s and 1960s writing under several pen names for men's magazines including Cavalier, Esquire, Fury, Male, and Man to Man.[9] Intent on writing his autobiography, he and his wife, Mabel, retired to their farm in Easton, Pennsylvania.[10] Spivak died in 1981, six months after his wife died. They had been married for 64 years and were survived by a daughter and grandson.[11][12]


See also

External link


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