Mission to Moscow by Joseph E. Davies, United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1936 to 1938, is the Binghamton University Libraries’ Special Collections Book-of-the-Month for June 2013.
The book is made up entirely of confidential dispatches to the State Department, selections from diary and journal entries, and correspondence both official and personal. It claims to present a “comprehensive picture of the Soviet Union as it was seen by a man who made no secret of his capitalistic interests but who went there with an open mind and an understanding heart.”
This book chronicles tells of Davies’ experiences in the Soviet Union from his appointement as American Ambassador to the U.S.S.R. on November 16, 1936 through 1938. He arrived in Moscow to find the treason trial of Karl Radek, an oppositionist, and remained there until the eve of the Czechoslovak crisis. He was called back to Washington to serve as special assistant to the State Department in charge of war emergency problems and policies.
Our copy of Mission to Moscow is the photoplay edition. As one can see on the dust jacket, the story was “brought to the screen by Warner Bros. Pictures.” The screenplay adaptation of the book was by Howard Koch. The film was shot in faux-documentary style and contained extensive montage sequences, which drew on footage from Soviet archives. Ambassador Davies introducef the film; his part was played by Walter Huston. While the storylines of both the book and movie are practically identical, the movie used cinematic techniques and dialogue changes to overstate or change some controversial points in the book—changes that were made with Davies’ approval. The film was the first pro-Soviet Hollywood film of its time.
Mission to Moscow is a gift of the late John K. McLaughlin. To see this book or other photoplay editions from the McLaughlin Collection, visit Special Collections. We are located on the second floor of the Glenn G. Bartle Library (off of the North Reading Room).