The Repatriate

Love, Basketball, and the KGB

Non-Fiction - Autobiography
446 Pages
Reviewed on 06/09/2017
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Author Biography

Born into the blue-collar immigrant community of southwest Detroit in 1928, Tom Mooradian graduated from Southwestern High School in 1947 with high academic honors and offers of athletic scholarships. He joined a repatriation group and went to Soviet Armenia, graduated from the Institute of Physical Culture and Sports with a bachelor’s degree, coached junior basketball teams, and became a legendary basketball player for Soviet Armenia. After spending 13 years trying to return to his homeland, he was granted an exit visa by the Soviet government, attended and graduated from Wayne State University with a major in journalism, and worked for Detroit suburban newspapers until his retirement in 2003.

Tom has received numerous Michigan Press Association writing awards for articles and columns; special tributes from the State Senate, State House of Representatives and Certificates of Recognition from the Wayne County Commission, Cities of Wayne, Westland, Inkster, Belleville, Romulus, and Van Buren, Sumpter and Canton Townships for his excellence in journalism.

Tom and his wife Jan divide their time between homes in metro-Detroit and northern Michigan. They have two grown daughters, Jennifer and Bethany, and three delightful grandchildren.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite

The Repatriate: Love, Basketball, and the KGB by Tom Mooradian is an autobiography that brilliantly captures what it felt like to live behind the Iron Curtain. Set in 1947 - 1960, this autobiography follows the life of Tom Mooradian, a seventeen-year-old boy, a basketball prodigy, and an honor student with high academic ranking in the senior class in Southwestern High School, as he joins hundreds of other Soviet citizens, fighting for survival in the Soviet Union and in a place that is supposed to be home.

He had joined hundreds of American Armenians to travel to the Soviet bloc with the hopes of living a dream, but upon arrival, he discovered that he had been deprived of his freedom. He couldn’t criticize the state either in public or in private. He was arrested and tortured at the airport in Soviet Armenia by the police just because he had signed a petition to the US Ambassador requesting help to travel back to the US. How did he survive his 13 years behind the Iron Curtain and what did it all have to do with basketball?

Tom Mooradian’s memoir is a heartbreaking story with powerful historical and cultural references, a book that could be read as history lived in the heart of a young Armenian. The setting bears powerful witness to the Cold War and the sufferings of millions of people living behind this part of the Iron Curtain. It is a fascinating story that is so beautifully told. Once you start reading, it becomes impossible to put it down. I was captured by the author's powerful voice, seduced by the excellent writing, and blown away by the entire narrative and the author’s grim experiences and his love for the suffering people. The Repatriate: Love, Basketball, and the KGB will let you see behind the Iron Curtain.