Mark “Etienne” Zborowski: Portrait of Deception, Part Two

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This is the second part of an article that draws a portrait of Mark Zborowski, Stalin’s master spy in the Left Opposition, revealing his activities and analysing the damage he caused from Paris to the US. Known as Etienne in the Trotskyist movement, Zborowski was smart, inconspicuous and dangerous, and became one of a handful of leading operatives in the network of secret spies charged by Stalin with rooting out his political and intellectual opponents in the West. Part One showed how Zborowski sowed suspicion and deepened divisions within the international Left Opposition, enabled assassinations and played a role in the death of Trotsky’s son, Lev Sedov. Zborowski was so successful in penetrating Sedov’s inner circle that he became the Editor of the Bulletin of the Left Opposition after Sedov’s death, thereby positioning himself to alter Trotsky’s articles in subtle, undetectable but politically damaging ways. Zborowski’s life was marked by deception, intrigue and luck: he survived and flourished when millions perished. In this second part, we take up his trajectory in the US, where he continued his work for Stalin’s ‘organs’. Zborowski was eventually unmasked as a spy, but he nonetheless managed to pursue two successful careers and achieve enormous influence in the areas he worked in—first as a cultural anthropologist and then as a medical anthropologist. In both fields he published texts that established him as a leading figure—in Jewish studies with the influential Life is With People , and in medical anthropology with the publication of People in Pain .

Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Stalinism
  • Trotskyism
  • NKVD
  • Sociology of the Shtetl
  • Fiddler on the Roof
  • Marxism
  • Intelligence


  • Political Science

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