Jim Tuck’s homepage, biography and published works

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Jim Tuck

Editor’s Note:

Jim Tuck died in 2005. Jim approached his Mexico with a particular love of history that was strongly colored by his political and social beliefs. His articles on the various periods of Mexico’s development and the significant individuals who played a part in creating those times provides a perspective that is quite different from the traditional presentation of History. His writings were helpful to me in that he related Mexico’s story to events and people in the rest of the world in a way that allowed me to develop a more universal perspective of my adopted country. Reading Jim’s words will tell you more about who he was than I ever could.

Note: all Jim Tuck’s articles remain copyright protected.

None of Jim Tuck’s historical articles on MexConnect website can be used without his Estate’s permission. These articles are Jim’s intellectual property and not available on a pro bono basis.

Jim’s material on Mexico is ideally suited to survey courses in Latin American History programs as well as for reference purposes.

Jim’s Curriculum Vitae is pretty thoroughly covered in the Biography Section.

Jim’s writing ranges from works about history, culture and politics, ranging from the Jurassic Period to the present; to travel articles. During his latter years, Jim was no longer interested in becoming the love-slave of a voodoo priestess or in ascertaining how many Hollywood playboys were gay boys.

What follows is a list of Jim Tuck’s major publications, with synopses of each of them.

Jim Tuck

(Synopsis and Comment links from listing #)

  1. The Holy War In Los Altos: A Regional Analysis of Mexico’s Cristero Rebellion.
    Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 1982.
  2. Pancho Villa and John Reed: Two Faces of Romantic Revolution.
    Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 1984.
  3. Engine of Mischief: An Analytical Biography of Karl Radek.
  4. McCarthyism and New York’s Hearst Press: A Study of Roles in the Witch Hunt.
    Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1995.
  5. The Liberal Civil War: Fraternity and Fratricide on the Left.
    Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1998
  6. Stalin’s Christian Soldiers: The Hammer, the Sickle and the Cross, 1933-’53
    St. Augustine, FL. Perception Press, 2000


1) The Holy War In Los Altos: A Regional Analysis of Mexico’s Cristero Rebellion.

Viva Cristo Rey! Under this rallying cry, Mexican Catholics rose up in response to anti-clerical laws passed in the wake of that country’s 1917 Constitution. The Los Altos area of Jalisco was a particularly strong seat of Catholicism and witnessed the greatest resistance to those laws. That resistance took the form of an armed rebellion that serves as the focus of Jim Tuck’s fascinating history.

Heroes and quislings, intrigues and betrayals, spirituality and machismo … all of these elements came into play during the drama that unfolded in Los Altos. Growing from resistance groups to organized boycott to armed rebellion, early rebel successes were met with brutal repression; but when the government cleared the countryside to deny the rebels food, this action resulted instead in a swelling of their ranks…

Just as historians will welcome this regional analysis of a major phase of Mexican history, so observers of current events in Latin America will appreciate this insight into insurrection at the grass-roots level. (From Borderland History and Culture, University of Arizona Press.)

“An admirable book, for the research, the orderly and intelligent exposition, but above all for the choice of little known argument, which needed to be illuminated … I read it with pleasure and profit.”

… Luigi Barzini
“As an exciting description of Cristero campaigns and personal feuds in Los Altos, by someone who knows the area well, The Holy War in Los Altos is very good.”
… Hispanic American Historical Review

2) Pancho Villa and John Reed: Two Faces of Romantic Revolution.

Pancho Villa and John Reed is a parallel biographical work set against a backdrop of worldwide revolution. Moving from IWW picket lines to Mexican ambushes to Bolshevik council chambers, this captivating narrative reveals how two strikingly different men — one a Mexican bandit, one a Harvard graduate — rose to a cause, crossed paths briefly, then parted and fell to the intrigues of their enemies …

Drawing on previously untapped archival sources in Mexico, Jim Tuck weaves the lives of these two controversial figures into a compelling study of romantic revolution. He compares the influences of mentors, the counsels of friends, and the defeats inevitable to true romantics when they come into conflict with organization men.

Villa and Reed are shown to have displayed unexpected strengths and weaknesses as revolutionaries. Their inability to cope with bureaucrats was a reflection of their idealistic temperaments; yet their charismatic personalities made them undeniably pivotal figures in history and role models for future generations of rebels.

” … well-written and extremely interesting. I read it from cover to cover.”

… James W. Wilkie

“Tuck has produced an important and illuminating book here that not only gives new insights into the characters and motivations of Villa and Reed but also which says … that while their lives were as different as it would be possible to imagine, revolution was the common denominator which made them brothers to their deaths-“

… Dale L. Walker, El Paso Times

3) Engine of Mischief: An Analytical Biography of Karl Radek.

Karl Radek, leading victim of the 1937 Moscow purge trial, was by turns a Pole, a Jew, a West European social democrat, a Soviet official, a Trotskyist and a Stalinist. A born iconoclast, he began his career by attacking established political orders and ended it by defending one of history’s vilest tyrannies. Tuck opens this analytical biography with an account of Radek’s atypical early adolescence and then traces the evolution of Radek’s political thought from Polish nationalism to patriotic and later international socialism. Radek’s six years in Germany were marked by his journalistic success and subsequent disgrace as well as his expulsion from the German and Polish social-democratic parties. His fortunes turned when he joined Lenin in Switzerland and later established himself as one of the leading “rightists” in the Communist movement. His romantic liaison with Larissa Reissner, his allegiance to Trotsky and later to Stalin, and his downfall following publication of a satire on Stalin, are treated in subsequent chapters. The work then presents an account of Radek’s trial and banishment to the Gulag and concludes with an overall assessment of Radek which challenges that of Arthur Koestler.

This biography gives a wide-ranging account of the most cosmopolitan of the Old Bolsheviks, and clearly portrays the dichotomy between Radek’s capacity for brilliant political analysis and his surprising lack of discretion, which in the end proved to be his downfall.

“…satisfying and fast-moving without being superficial, and offers an intellectually intriguing thesis.”

… Choice, May 1989

“Jim Tuck’s book refreshes our memory about an important slice of Russian history and provides some new insight into Karl Radek’s life.”

… Ben Stone, Bulletin for the Defense of Marxism

4) McCarthyism and New York’s Hearst Press: A Study of Roles in the Witch Hunt.

A study of the relationship between McCarthyism and the Hearst press in New York. Focus is on the two new York papers because the Journal-American was the flagship and the Mirror was home base for Walter Winchell, whose role in the McCarthy movement plays a major role in the book. New York was the dragon’s head of the Hearst empire and the leading Journal-American and Mirror columnists were syndicated throughout the other Hearst papers.

The book covers four time-segments and ends in an epilogue. First was the 1946-49 period of “pre-McCarthy McCarthyism,” when Americals leading Red hunters were Nixon, Parnell Thomas and J. Edgar Hoover. In those days McCarthy’s redbaiting was parochial, opportunistic and related mainly to his own concerns. He ignored an issue as burning as the trial of Cardinal Mindszenty — a cause célèbre in the Hearst press — and concentrated all his energy on such “subversives” as advocates of public housing and an unfriendly reporter in Wisconsin.

The second phase begins with the Hearst Press’s endorsement of McCarthy five weeks after his celebrated Wheeling speech of February 9, 1950, when he said he had the names of 205 Communists in the State Department. This was the alliance at high noon, when column/editorial support for McCarthy was intense and Hearst reporters regularly fed him material.

Phase #3 begins in March 1953, when a split developed and criticism of McCarthy began to surface in the Hearst papers. This trend was by no means monolithic: McCarthy’s off-and-on critics included Frank Conniff, Bob Considine and William Randolph Hearst Jr. while a hard-line faction led by Westbrook Pegler and E. F. Tompkins defended him to the end. Winchell played a highly equivocal role, defending McCarthy right up through the censure vote but years later falsely claiming that he had broken with him.

The fourth period covers the time between McCarthy’s censure in December 1954 and death in May 1957. The Hearst press was then cautiously moving toward the Republican mainstream and Hearst Jr. was an enthusiastic admirer of Eisenhower. By contrast, McCarthy had grown so reckless and alcoholically irrational that he even charged ultra-conservative Republicans with appeasing communism. During those last 29 months the Journal-American and Mirror imposed a press “brownout” on McCarthy, occasionally mentioning him in news stories but almost never in columns and editorials.

The epilogue is an analysis of McCarthy’s redbaiting which draws two main conclusions. First, that it passed through three phases: insular and self-centered in the years before the Wheeling speech; crusading and ideologically committed during the Hearst alliance; paranoid and alcohol-impaired between censure and death. Second, that it was strongly tinged with ethnic prejudice — but one directed far more against privileged Anglos than minorities. McCarthy was not anti-Semitic, he enjoyed a good rapport with Native Americans (vide his boyhood mentor “Indian Charlie”) and was surprisingly courteous to African-American witnesses with well-established records of pro-Communist sympathy. At the same time, he brutally savaged such strongly anti-Communist Ivy League WASPs as Dean Acheson and Reed Harris.

A central theme in the book is the irony that the Hearst press was both more and less “McCarthyish” than McCarthy himself: more so in the pre-Wheeling years, less so between his censure and death.

“In retrospect it is hard to believe that a demagogue like Joe McCarthy could have intimidated the American people; but Jim Tuck’s compelling account of the alliance between McCarthy and William Randolph Hearst helps explain why so many normal Americans succumbed to panic nearly half a century ago and resorted to witch hunts and blacklists.”

…. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.

“Tuck’s sharp-eyed, relevant for today (alas) account of Joe McCarthy’s fling with the press is as fascinating to read as it is somber to brood upon.”

… Gore Vidal

5) The Liberal Civil War: Fraternity and Fratricide on the Left.

This work’s main emphasis is on the bitter internecine struggle that raged in the liberal community between 1945-48, when it split on the divisive issues of relations with Russia and the feasibility of working with domestic Communists to achieve desirable goals.

Also covered are events in the “liberal civil war” that took place before and after the 1945-48 period. These include the stigmatizing of anti-Stalin leftists during the Second World War and marginalization of the Popular Front between the 1948 election and the dawn of the McCarthy era, at which time it virtually disappeared. By “Popular Front” I mean the coalition that included not only Communists and fellow travelers but also anti-Cold War Progressives who disagreed with the Soviet position on many points but still felt it possible to work with Communists on a limited basis in the pursuit of world peace.

During the Vietnam War a number of ex-Popular Front supporters resurfaced, this time to join with their old enemies, the Cold War liberals, in opposition to that conflict. But mutual animosity was re-ignited after Vietnam with a series of events that included publication of Lillian Hellman’s Scoundrel Time and the release of Woody Allen’s The Front. Then came Hellman’s politically-charged lawsuit against Mary McCarthy in the eighties and the 1996 clash between Nicholas von Hoffman and Arthur Schlesinger over the issue of liberal attitudes toward communism during the McCarthy era.

Of the book’s 13 chapters, 2-8 are devoted to the period between V-J Day and the 1948 election. Chronologically, events examined include the first stirrings of anti-Soviet sentiment after the war, Stalin’s bellicose speech of February 9, 1946, Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech, the Communist-dominated Win-the-peace Conference and how it stimulated James Loeb’s May 13, 1946 letter to the New Republic (a virtual manifesto of the anti-Communist left), Henry Wallace’s Madison Square Garden speech and firing from Truman’s cabinet, the founding of Progressive Citizens of America (PCA) and Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) on the cusp of 1946-47, bitter 1947 political battles over the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan, Wallace’s decision to run for president, formation of the Progressive party and ADA’s role as shock troops against the Wallace forces.

Chapter 1 analyzes attacks on anti-Stalin leftists during World War II, #9 crossover activity, #10 the struggle within the labor movement, #11 the 1948 election, #12 the Popular Front after that election and #13 the revisionist v.anti-revisionist controversy from the 1970s to the 1990s.

“Closely researched, meticulous in detail, cunningly anecdotal, Tuck’s books are microscopic examinations of colorful threads of history . . .”

Michael Hogan PhD.
Author: The Irish Soldiers of Mexico

“To anyone of any age interested in the lessons of history…The Liberal Civil War should have a strong appeal…”

Gus Tyler
Former vice-president, International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU)
Former national board member, Americans for Democratic Action (ADA)

6) Stalin’s Christian Soldiers: The Hammer, the Sickle and the Cross, 1933-1953

A study of clergy who closely adhered to the Soviet line between 1933-53, the period spanning Hitler and FDR’s assumption of power and Stalin’s death. Prominently featured are such figures in Britain and Western Europe as the Dean of Canterbury and Abbé Jean Boulier, France’s best-known pro-Communist priest. In the U.S., the focus is on such clerics as the Methodists Harry F. Ward and Jack McMichael, the Episcopalians William Howard Melish and William Spofford, the Presbyterian Richard Morford and the Unitarian Stephen Fritchman.

I begin by analyzing the key role played by Red fronter turned Red hunter J.B. Matthews, himself an ordained Methodist, in calling attention to Soviet-lining clergy in a highly controversial 1953 American Mercury article. The article, an attack on pro-Communist Protestant clergy, ended in Matthews’s forced resignation as staff director for Senator Joe McCarthy’s subcommittee on government operations. I find of interest the reluctance of even the most rabid witch hunters (McCarthy included) to take on the clergy. Clerics were long treated more leniently than other suspected Communist-liners and gloves were only removed in the wake of the Matthews article.

At that time, HUAC launched a particularly nasty investigation that targeted both anti-Communist liberals like Bishop G. Bromley Oxnam and authentic clerical fellow travelers like Jack McMichael.

A final theme of my book is the question of how sincere religious believers, which most of these clerics were, could reconcile their vision of Christianity with a system as brutal as Stalinism.

“…thorough, useful and objective…”

Arhur M. Schlesinger Jr.


The attached open letter is self-explanatory. If, after reading it, you are in sympathy with my design to unmask and demythologize the undeserving individual for whom the memorial fund is currently named and rename it to honor a great humanitarian like Dr. King, address letters, faxes and e-mail communications to the office of President Wright at Dartmouth.


November 10, 2000

President James Wright
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755

Dear President Wright:

I’m making this an open letter, with appropriate media and Internet distribution, for reasons that will become apparent as you read on.

In 1989 I wrote President Freedman and requested that the S. Pinkney Tuck 1913 Memorial Fund be renamed for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I received a reply from a Mr. Thomas W. Soybel of the Legal Affairs and External Relations Department in which my request was denied. Unfortunately, intense pressure of work has made it impossible for me to pursue the matter further for some time. But now I find myself free to do so.

In his letter, Mr. Soybel made a reference to Pinkney Tuck’s “distinguished” career. I believe it’s time that you, the Dartmouth community and the general public, should have some accurate information about that career. As follows:

1) Pinkney Tuck was serving as American consul in Geneva at the time of the Sacco-Vanzetti case. When Sacco and Vanzetti were executed, in 1927, there were massive demonstrations outside the Consulate. In the wake of these, Tuck issued a statement to the press that he had gone out, mingled with the rioters, and at one point shouted: “Give us the head of the American consul!” The story appeared in the New York Times and Time magazine, resulting in considerable favorable publicity for Tuck.

For the following reasons, there is absolutely no way that this could ever have happened. First, Tuck didn’t speak good enough French to pass for a native Genevese. Second, Geneva in 1927 was a fairly small community and the American consul was a high profile figure. Somebody in the crowd would have recognized him. Third — and nobody can blame him for this — he never would have been so foolhardy as to go out into a hostile crowd and face a situation where he risked serious injury and perhaps even death. Fourth, he was never able to produce one single corroborative witness to this alleged feat of daring. What actually happened seems obvious. Tuck slipped away for an hour or so (he could have been hiding in the lavatory) and then came back and announced that he had gone out into the crowd and shouted the imprecation that sounds like something lifted from a Walter Scott novel. Conclusion: Pinkney Tuck exploited the judicial murder of two innocent men for the sake of a cheap, fraudulent and self-serving publicity stunt.

2) While serving at the Geneva post, Tuck was arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct and vandalism, in the French designation being tapage nocturne. In the company of two local playboys, both Swiss nationals, Tuck participated in a drunken rampage in which property was destroyed and neighborhood residents annoyed by having their garbage cans knocked over. Tuck’s companions in this escapade were a native Swiss named Horace de Pourtalès and a naturalized Swiss of U.S. origin named Frederick Bates. I believe this is the sole case on record of an American consul being arrested by police of his host country for engaging in behavior at the juvenile delinquent level. The only thing that saved Tuck’s career was the fact that his father-in-law, my grandfather James M. Beck, had been solicitor general under Harding and Coolidge and therefore had a measure of influence in Republican political circles. Shortly after the incident, Tuck was quietly transferred to Czechoslovakia.

3) Tuck definitely had ties with organized crime. His contact — or, perhaps more accurately, “control” — was a mob figure named Blinky Palermo, the latter not to be confused with the German avant garde painter who appropriated his name. Blinky Palermo and a colleague, Frankie Carbo, exercised a strong influence in boxing during the 1940s and 1950s and Palermo would continually lavish on Tuck batches of prime tickets, 10 to 15 at a time, to championship fights and other major sporting events. Tuck never made any great secret of the relationship. On the contrary, he seemed proud to have a connection, however tenuous, with such a dangerously influential segment of our society. Whenever the tickets came through, I recall that he would wave them around in a sort of feverish triumph. I asked Tuck several times what he had done to merit these benefactions but his response was always supercilious and dismissive, typically: “It’s nothing a parlor liberal like you would understand.” Though I have no concrete proof, I suspect the service he rendered was money laundering. Tuck lived in Paris during fall and winter and in Geneva during spring and summer. This would put him in close proximity to two of Europe’s leading financial centers. Another possiblity is that he was acting as a liaison between American organized crime and that bloc of corrupt French deputies traditionally controlled by the Corsican Mafia. Tuck had many friendships of this nature — some going back to the days whjen he was stationed at Vichy and palling around with the Laval-de Chambrun clique. (Tuck’s curious passivity in dealing with the notorious Franco-American collaborator Charles Bedaux is noted on p. 208 of Charles Higham’s Trading With the Enemy.)

Looking back on this distasteful episode, I can’t help but feeing a grudging admiration for the masterful psychology displayed by Pinkney Tuck’s organized crime manipulators. In selecting Blinky Palermo as his control, in making sure he always received 10 to 15 tickets rather than a smaller number, they made it possible for Tuck to fulfill his dearest wish and invite (as he always did) some of those Racquet Club-Brook Club types on whom he fawned so obsequiously. Then off they’d go to their ringside seats at the Joe Louis fight, the Rocky Graziano fight, the Jake La Motta fight. With his pliant servility to the Racquet Club-Brook Club WASP elitists, and his pliant servility to the elites of Hollywood and organized crime (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Blinky Palermo), Tuck puts me in mind of that repellent historical figure defined by Camille Paglia as the court hermaphrodite.

4) I recommend an investigation to determine if there was any connection between Pinkney Tuck’s very sudden “resignation” as ambassador to Egypt in 1948 and an attack on him in Drew Pearson’s column which preceded that “resignation.” Though I never saw the column, I frequently heard Tuck raging about it. Apparently Pearson had charged that Tuck, à la Jonathan Pollard, was more interested with serving the interests of a foreign government (in this case Britain) than those of his own country. If so, such behavior would be completely consistent with an exaggerated and sycophantic anglophilia that was one of Tuck’s defining characteristics and which he carried to the extent of affecting a British accent — though he was born on Staten Island. (One derives wry amusement from imagining conversations between Blinky Palermo and a prancing pseudo-English-accented poseur like Pinkney Tuck.) I also find it significant that Tuck’s “resignation” from the Cairo post was almost immediately followed by his being appointed a director of the Suez Canal Company. The Suez board was then completely controlled by the British and French and this plum could well have been a reward for services rendered.

I rest my case. Whatever my feelings about this individual, the fact remains that I am legally his closest surviving relative. So I feel that my wishes in this matter should be respected. I therefore once again direct that the name of the “S. Pinkney Tuck 1913 Memorial Fund” be changed to the “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Fund.”

Like Martin, President Wright, I have a dream. It is a dream of a memorial fund at Dartmouth, a fund named after a man of the moral grandeur of Dr. King and no longer tainted by the name of Blinky Palermo’s errand boy — a figure whose character was so conspicuously lacking in content.

Very truly yours,

Jim Tuck

ADDENDUM (3/23/02)

I make a reference in the Open Letter to Pinkney Tuck “palling around with the Laval-de Chambrun clique.” In this context, I was very recently shown a copy of Alain Guérin’s “Chronique de la Résistance,” a massive work of over 1800 pages that is considered the definitive book on the French Resistance. It was published in Paris in 2000. On page 965 appears this excerpt, which translates as: “…the chargé d’affaires, Pinkney Tuck, regularly maintained a very close and cordial contact with (Pierre) Laval.” The “de Chambrun” referred to in the Open Letter is René, Laval’s son-in-law, who has consistently claimed that Laval was a “patriot” rather than a traitor. Collaboration charges were brought against de Chambrun after the war and I have a distinct recollection of Tuck and his wife, my stepmother, wailing and moaning about “the way they’re picking on poor Bunny.” This was de Chambrun’s nickname. If that seems improbable, I have in my files — and will produce on request — the xerox copy of a January 2, 1947 letter to de Chambrun from Robert Pearce, president of the National City Bank branch in Paris. The letter confirms that the American Embassy in Paris had been putting pressure on the bank to cancel a lease for de Chambrun’s law office in their building, because of the charges against him. The letter’s opening salutation is “My dear Bunny.”

Blinky Palermo and Pierre Laval — I believe I’m correct in stating that Pinkney Tuck was the only person who ever functioned as an ” homme de main” for figures high in American organized crime and Vichy France.

The Dartmouth
The Amsterdam News

Published or Updated on: October 9, 2006 by Jim Tuck © 2008


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