Donald Thompson in Russia

Donald Thompson, edited by David H. Mould 

Pioneer war photographer Donald Thompson arrived in Petrograd on the eve of the February Revolution of 1917. Since the outbreak of World War I, Thompson had worked on every front in Europe, shooting motion-picture footage and stills for US and British newspapers and magazines, carefully fashioning his reputation as a free spirit who defied danger, death, the elements, and the censors to get the picture. On assignment for Paramount and Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly, and accompanied by correspondent Florence Harper, he arrived in Russia in December 1916, traveling on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Over the next six months, as the country plunged into political and social chaos, he photographed demonstrations and street-fighting, was caught in crossfire between protestors and troops, and was arrested and thrown in jail.  He traveled to Moscow and the Russian front lines. He met and photographed Tsar Nicolas II, political and military leaders, and prominent foreign visitors. He witnessed the power struggle between the Provisional Government and the Petrograd Soviet, and the breakdown of discipline in the army. Donald Thompson in Russia is a compilation of letters to his wife Dorothy in Topeka, Kansas, illustrated with photos. First published in 1918, it outlines Thompson’s conspiracy thesis that “German intrigue, working among the unthinking masses, has brought Russia to her present woeful condition.”