INS head’s 25-year research effort yields new book

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By Abeer Khan

UNIVERSITY CITY, SHARJAH – Head of the International Studies Department at American University of Sharjah, Dr. Vernon Pedersen discussed his book The Communist Party on the American Waterfront in an online talk on Nov. 8.

Pedersen spent 25 years working on the book, published last February. 

Pedersen said he got the idea for the book in 1995 after reading Out of the Night by Jan Valtin, which discusses the Marine Workers’ Industrial Union – a communist-led union in America in the 1930s. 

Dr. Vernon Pedersen (AUS Image)

The first four chapters of his book are a narrative of the career of George Mink, a controversial figure in American Communist history. 

“He was held up during the Cold War as the absolutely perfect embodiment of cold, ruthless, murderous Soviet agents working internationally and in the United States,” added Pederson. 

After extensive research, Pedersen discovered that Mink was a Ukraine-born agent of the Communist International, or Comintern, Pedersen said he was amazed at the amount of information he was able to find about Mink, whose handwritten autobiography survives in the Comintern’s files. 

Pedersen gathered all his research and organized it chronologically, which he says occupied two giant filing cabinets. 

“My actual writing process was to sit down every morning at 5:30 a.m. and write three pages, however long that took me,” said Pedersen. 

Pedersen said he concentrated on publishing several small articles based on the research he did for the book before he began writing it. This was “one of the reasons it took me so incredibly long to get this thing published,” he added.