Worked as a miner in Donbass. Joined the Communist Party, 1929. Throughout the 1930s, industrial manager, working in metallurgy.
During World War II, as an army captain, appointed to the Soviet Purchasing Commission in Washington. In April 1944, defected and denounced the policies of Stalin. Wrote a book, / Chose Freedom, about his life in the Soviet Union, which appeared in 1947 and became an international bestseller.
The book gives a truthful picture of the situation in the USSR soon after collectivization and under Beria’s regime of terror. Because Stalin was a recent wartime ally, the revelations were met with scepticism in the West. Denounced by the Stalinist propaganda machine, and by a French communist publication as a ‘fascist and liar’.
Brought a libel case against Lettres Francoises in Paris, 1948-1949, and won, with the help of witnesses from refugee camps. Later, put great hopes on the Khrushchev reforms, but was disappointed by the slow internal developments in the Soviet Union. Lived in the USA. Found dead with gun-shot wounds in his fiat in unclear circumstances (officially pronounced a suicide case).