Arthur Derounian

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Arthur Derounian 1949

John Roy Carlson (April 9, 1909, Alexandroupoli — April 23, 1991, New York[1]) is one of the many pen names of Avedis Boghos Derounian,[2][3][4][5] the journalist and best-selling author of Under Cover.[6]

Derounian wrote for the Armenian Mirror-Spectator, Fortune Magazine, the Council Against Intolerance and the Friends of Democracy. [7] In the 1950s he founded and managed the Armenian Information Service, which made a number of publications. His exposé writing has been the subject of lawsuits.[8][9]

Derounian is also notable for editing the controversial manifesto of Armenia's first prime minister, Hovhannes Katchaznouni.[10]

Personal life[edit]

He was born to Boghos Derounian and Eliza Aprahamian in Dedeagach, Adrianople Vilayet, Ottoman Empire (today Alexandroupoli, Greece), and spent part of his childhood in Turkey and Sofia, Bulgaria, where his brother Steven Derounian (who later became a Republican Representative) was born.[11][12] His family, fleeing the Balkan Wars, eventually settled in Mineola, New York. He went on to study at New York University's School of Journalism. Later, he married Marie Nazarian and had a daughter named Elyse and a son named Robert.

He died of a heart attack on April 23, 1991, while researching at the library of the American Jewish Committee on East 56th Street.

Undercover work[edit]

In 1933, Archbishop Leon Tourian was brutally assassinated at the altar of his New York church. The assassins were members of the Dashnaks. Derounian spent the rest of his life fighting fascism, the Dashnags, and all forms of racism.

"The Plotters"[edit]


"Under Cover: My Four Years in the Nazi Underworld of America - The Amazing Revelation of How Axis Agents and Our Enemies Within Are Now Plotting To Destroy the United States" became a best seller when published in 1943.

Derounian was a tireless investigator of subversive activity, and infiltrated numerous "patriotic" groups, some of which he listed in the opening of his book Under Cover: National Socialist White People's Party (Harold Covington), German American Bund, Christian Front, American Nationalist Party, American Women Against Communism, The Gray Shirts, America First Committee, Christian Mobilizers, The American Defense Society, Anglo-Saxon Federation of America, National Workers League, Yankee Freemen, Flanders Hall, American Patriots among many others.

Among the groups he also helped expose was the international Nazi propaganda news agency World-Service.

He was also the chief investigator of the anti-fascist organization, Friends of Democracy.[13]

In a speech Representative Arthur G. Klein attempted to give in the U. S. House in 1944 and which was printed in The Nation, Klein praises Derounian's book Under Cover:

Lawsuits related to Under Cover[edit]

Unsurprisingly, this expose made him enemies, and several parties instituted actions against him for alleged libelous material. Three of the four cases failed the consolidated case before the jury, leaving an verdict in favor only of lawyer Jeremiah Stokes, which was later overturned. The lawsuit claimed that Derounian had held Stokes up for ridicule. Stokes is first mentioned on page 365 of Under Cover, and his patriotism questioned in the next chapter, which begins:

I was in the room alone with two men. The one who had pumped both my hands in welcome was a small round man with a bald dome and rotund face. He had small, beady eyes and he peered at you from behind rimmed glasses He was definitely of the single-track, uncompromising zealot type. Jeremiah Stokes had let his law practice slide and was devoting the major portion of his time to the writing of "patriotic" tracts.

Derounian appealed; the appellate court reversed the district court and remanded the matter, stating in the overview:[9]

The court found error in the submission to the jury of a physical description of the individual as small and rotund in stature, bald, round of face, and having small and beady eyes. The description of the individual was not reasonably calculated to subject him to public ridicule. It was error to submit to the jury ridicule of personal appearance as an element of damages.

"From Cairo to Damascus"[edit]

Shortly after the publication of Under Cover, Derounian as John Roy Carlson decides to travel to Palestine in 1947 via England and Egypt, to chronicle the war between the Jews and the Arabs. The material for this adventure became his book From Cairo to Damascus, published in 1951.

Surrender of Jewish Quarter, photo by Arthur Derounian "John Roy Carlson" in Cairo to Damascus- Rabbi Ben Zion Hazzan Ireq (72), Jerusalem, 28 March 1948.

Carlson doesn't travel with the Western journalists but goes undercover again, posing as an anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi, pro-Arab sympathiser in order to win their confidences. This he does, and traveling with his camera, he documents what he saw in this book. He was an eye-witness to the pullout of the British troops, the activities of the Haganah, and the hand-over to the United Nations forces. He observed first-hand the activities of the Arab Legion trained and armed by the British and the battle for the state of Israel.

Arab Legion soldier in ruins of Hurva - photo by Arthur Derounian ("John Roy Carlson") in Cairo to Damascus

In this book he tells of his meetings with pro-Nazi Arabs, with Moslem Brotherhood members, ordinary Arab fellahs and even meets with anti-Zionist notables such as the Grand Mufti himself.

He travelled between both sides, crossing the hot zone in the midst of armed conflict.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Avedis Derounian, Social Security Death Index
  2. ^ Alpers, Benjamin L. (2003). Dictators, Democracy, and American Public Culture. University of North Carolina Press. p. 383. ISBN 978-0-8078-5416-7. 
  3. ^ Hewsen, Robert H. (October 1963). "Armenian Names in America". American Speech (Duke University Press) 38 (3): 214–219. doi:10.2307/454102. JSTOR 454102. 
  4. ^ Canada Parliament. House of Commons (2008-08-08). Debates: Official Report 5. Queen's Printer. p. 5212. His real name is Avedis Boghos Derounian, an Armenian immigrant. The name of the author of Under Cover is given as Derounian, alias Carlson, alias Paige, ... 
  5. ^ Joshi, Sunand Tryambak (1998). Documents of American Prejudice: An Anthology of Writings on Race from Thomas Jefferson to David Duke. Basic Books. p. 406. ISBN 978-0-465-01624-2. This beauty is an Armenian born in Greece, whose real name, if such a person can be said to own a real name, is Avedis Boghos Derounian, alias John Roy Carlson, amongst a string of fifteen aliases.  (other quote elided)
  6. ^ Sarles, Ruth; Kauffman, Bill (2003). A Story of America First: The Men and Women who Opposed US intervention in World War II. Greenwood Press. pp. xvii. ISBN 978-0-275-97512-8. 
  7. ^ Fowler, Glenn (1991-04-25). "Arthur Derounian, 82, an Author Of Books on Fascists and Bigots". New York Times. 
  8. ^ Sanctuary v. Thackrey, [NO NUMBER IN ORIGINAL], Supreme Court of New York, Trial Term, New York County, 189 Misc. 724; 72 N.Y.S.2d 104; 1947 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 2709, July 29, 1947. (The New York Post, published by Dorothy S. Thackrey, had serially printed Under Cover starting on October 16, 1943.)
  9. ^ a b Derounian v. Stokes, No. 3526, UNITED STATES CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS, TENTH CIRCUIT, 168 F.2d 305; 1948 U.S. App. LEXIS 3253, May 11, 1948.
  10. ^ Katchaznouni, Hovhannes (August 1955). John Roy Carlson (trans. Matthew A. Callender), ed. The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnagtzoutiun) Has Nothing to Do Anymore. New York: Armenian Information Service. ,
  11. ^ Kelly, Lee (1994-11-05). "Austin man remembered for honesty in 'Quiz Show'". Austin American-Statesman. 
  12. ^ Fowler, Glenn (1991-04-25). "Arthur Derounian, 82, an Author Of Books on Fascists and Bigots". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  13. ^ Kahn, E.J. (1947-07-26). "Profiles: 'Democracy's Friend'". New Yorker. Retrieved 2008-08-06. One of Friends of Democracy most fruitful accomplishments has been discovering a man named Avedis Derounian, better known by his pen name of John Roy Carlson. 
  14. ^ The Nation APRIL 26, 1944. pg 3

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