Jerrold Schecter, Time journal correspondent and writer, dies at 90

Jerrold L. Schecter, a journalist and writer who as Time journal’s Moscow bureau chief helped spirit the memoirs of former Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev into publication within the West, and who later co-wrote a ebook with a Soviet spymaster who alleged — with out proof, in line with the FBI — that architects of the American atomic program had spied for Moscow, died Feb. 6 at his house in Washington. He was 90.

His son Barnet Schecter confirmed his dying however didn’t cite a trigger.

Mr. Schecter joined Time journal within the late Nineteen Fifties and reported from throughout Asia, with postings in Hong Kong and Tokyo, earlier than turning into Moscow bureau chief in 1968. He turned maybe greatest identified for his function within the publication of a multivolume set of Khrushchev’s memoirs, which supplied a uncommon glimpse into the Soviet Union and the experiences of the chief who had led the Communist energy for greater than a decade in the course of the Cold War.

After his ouster in 1964, Khrushchev lived in a compound close to Moscow, the place, with the help of his son Sergei Khrushchev, he recorded tons of of hours of recollections.

Khrushchev’s “family and friends insisted that no details be revealed on how the memoirs were created,” Mr. Schecter wrote years later in a publication of the Nieman Foundation, recalling that he had set about “acquiring and secretly validating the authenticity of Khrushchev’s terrifying revelations of how Stalin’s excesses led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.”

Strobe Talbott, a Rhodes scholar and Time intern who later turned a correspondent for the journal, deputy secretary of state beneath President Bill Clinton and president of the Brookings Institution, was employed to translate the memoirs into English.

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The first two volumes of the memoirs have been revealed in ebook kind in 1970 and 1974. Taken collectively, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Harrison E. Salisbury wrote within the New York Times, they represented a “torrent” of “observations, firsthand accounts, after‐thoughts, musings, political backstabs, rambling anecdotes, warnings for the future, pietistic platitudes and political common sense by one of the most idiosyncratic (and vital) statesmen of our day.”

A protracted-awaited third quantity, translated and edited by Mr. Schecter and Soviet scholar Vyacheslav V. Luchkov, appeared in 1990. By that point, Khrushchev had been lifeless for 19 years, and Soviet chief Mikhail Gorbachev had ushered in a interval of glasnost, or openness. The launch of the ultimate quantity, journalist Kevin Klose wrote in The Washington Post, accomplished “a personal and political saga without parallel in our time.”

Among the revelations contained within the third quantity was that Fidel Castro implored the Soviet Union to assault the United States in the course of the Cuban missile disaster of 1962; the Cuban chief was a “hothead,” Khrushchev declared.

Marvin Kalb, a veteran tv information journalist and Russia scholar, mentioned in an interview that he regarded Mr. Schecter’s work on the Khrushchev memoir as “a masterful feat on his part, working in that terribly restrictive environment, to be able to get to Khrushchev, to people around Khrushchev, to get to his memoir, and actually to be able to publish it.”

Mr. Schecter left Moscow in 1970 and later turned a White House correspondent and diplomatic editor for Time. During the administration of President Jimmy Carter, he served as affiliate White House press secretary and spokesman for the National Security Council. He was later vp of public affairs on the Occidental Petroleum Corp.

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Mr. Schecter’s ebook “The Palace File” (1986), an account of U.S.-South Vietnamese relations in the course of the Vietnam War written with Nguyen Tien Hung, a former South Vietnamese official, was chosen by the New York Times as a notable ebook of the yr.

Mr. Schecter later generated important controversy with the publication in 1994 of his ebook “Special Tasks: The Memoirs of an Unwanted Witness — a Soviet Spymaster,” written with high-ranking KGB officer Pavel Sudoplatov, his son Anatoli Sudoplatov, and Mr. Schecter’s spouse, Leona P. Schecter.

Pavel Sudoplatov, who died two years after the ebook was launched, claimed within the quantity that nuclear scientists J. Robert Oppenheimer, Leo Szilard, Enrico Fermi and Niels Bohr had shared atomic secrets and techniques with the Soviet Union.

A panel of the American Physical Society expressed “profound dismay at unsubstantiated allegations” towards “some of the most eminent scientists of this century.” But Mr. Schecter stood by his account, writing in The Post in 1994 that “documents proving Sudoplatov’s oral history are in Moscow archives and eventually will emerge.”

The FBI performed an investigation that in 1995 discovered no “credible evidence” to implicate the scientists. FBI director Louis J. Freeh additional mentioned on the time that “the FBI has classified information available that argues against the conclusions reached by the author of ‘Special Tasks’” and “therefore, considers such allegations to be unfounded.”

The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, for its half, mentioned Sudoplatov’s accusations “do not correspond to reality.”

Jerrold Leonard Schecter was born in New York City on Nov. 27, 1932. His father was an insurance coverage govt, and his mom was an inside designer.

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After graduating from highschool within the Bronx, Mr. Schecter enrolled on the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the place he labored on the campus newspaper along with his future spouse, Leona Protas. They married in 1954, the yr Mr. Schecter graduated.

After faculty, Mr. Schecter started working as a stringer for Time whereas serving within the Navy in Japan.

Mr. Schecter’s first ebook, “The New Face of Buddha” (1967), was primarily based on his early reportage on Asia. With his spouse and kids, he wrote “An American Family in Moscow” (1975), primarily based on their expertise within the Soviet Union throughout his time as bureau chief. The household returned to the Soviet Union within the Nineteen Eighties for a PBS “Frontline” particular that additionally produced the ebook “Back in the U.S.S.R.” (1988).

Mr. Schecter was additionally the writer with KGB defector Peter S. Deriabin of “The Spy Who Saved the World: How a Soviet Colonel Changed the Course of the Cold War” (1992) and, with Leona Schecter, “Sacred Secrets: How Soviet Intelligence Operations Changed American History (2002).

Besides his spouse, of Washington, survivors embody 5 kids, Evelind Schecter of Phrao, Thailand, Steven Schecter of Oakland, Calif., Kate Schecter of Washington, Doveen Schecter of Queens and Barnet Schecter of Manhattan; 10 grandchildren; and three great-granddaughters.

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