1st Edition

I Saw Democracy Murdered The Memoir of Sam Russell, Journalist

By Colin Chambers, Sam Russell Copyright 2022
    284 Pages 28 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    284 Pages 28 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    I Saw Democracy Murdered is the memoir of Sam Russell (1915–2010), a communist journalist and a British volunteer with the anti-fascist Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War.

    The book covers his experiences during the Spanish Civil War, his time as a journalist at The Daily Worker and The Morning Star newspapers, and his later disillusionment with Stalinism. In his capacity as a journalist, Russell travelled extensively and was frequently a front-row spectator at significant historical events, from the formerly occupied Channel Islands at the end of World War II to the show trials of communists in Eastern Europe in the 1950s. His report as Moscow correspondent on Nikita Khruschev’s ‘secret speech’ condemning the crimes of Stalinism was lacerated by his newspaper's editor, as was his interview with the legendary revolutionary leader, Che Guevara. Sam, whose friends included Donald Maclean, the British diplomat who spied for the Soviet Union during the Cold War, also reported from Budapest in 1956 and Prague in 1968 during the Warsaw Pact invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, and from North Vietnam during the Vietnam War, and in 1973 he witnessed the assault on Chilean President Salvador Allende's palace that signalled the start of the CIA-backed military coup. Sam’s story was told to Colin Chambers and Chris Myant and has been edited by Colin Chambers.

    This autobiographical account of a fascinating life will be essential reading for scholars and activists with an interest in the Spanish Civil War, the history of communism, and British radical history.



    Francis Beckett

    1. The Road to Spain

    2. Fighting Franco

    3. From Rifle to Typewriter

    4. Defeat in Spain

    5. The World Goes to War

    6. Wartime Britain

    7. Back at the Worker

    8. Believing the Unbelievable

    9. The ‘Secret’ Speech

    10. Trouble in Moscow

    11. Farewell to Moscow

    12. Meeting Che

    13. Democracy Murdered

    14. Back in Spain

    15. Epilogue

    Appendix: Letters from Abroad

    Postscript: MI5 and My Family

    Ruth Muller


    Colin Chambers is a former journalist and Literary Manager of the Royal Shakespeare Company (1981–1997) and is Emeritus Professor of Drama at Kingston University, London, UK. His stage writing includes co-authoring Kenneth’s First Play and Tynan, and adapting David Pinski’s Treasure. Among his books are: Other Spaces: New Writing and the RSC; The Story of Unity Theatre; Peggy: The Life of Margaret Ramsay, Play Agent (first winner of the Theatre Book Prize); Inside the Royal Shakespeare Company; Here We Stand: Politics, Performers and Performance – Paul Robeson, Isadora Duncan, and Charlie Chaplin; and Black and Asian Theatre in Britain: A History. He edited The Continuum Companion to Twentieth Century Theatre and Peggy to Her Playwrights: The Letters of Margaret Ramsay, and co-edited Granville Barker on Theatre.

    Sam Russell (1915–2010) was a Communist journalist who began his career reporting from Spain during the Civil War in which he had been wounded, fighting as an anti-fascist volunteer for the International Brigades to defend the Republic. He remained with The Daily Worker and its successor, The Morning Star, for more than 40 years, becoming Foreign Editor and covering many of the key historical events of the century.