In this landmark work, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ted Morgan examines the McCarthyite strain in American politics, from its origins in the period that followed the Bolshevik Revolution to the present. Morgan argues that Senator Joseph McCarthy did not emerge in a vacuum--he was, rather, the most prominent in a long line of men who exploited the ...
In this landmark work, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ted Morgan examines the McCarthyite strain in American politics, from its origins in the period that followed the Bolshevik Revolution to the present. Morgan argues that Senator Joseph McCarthy did not emerge in a vacuum--he was, rather, the most prominent in a long line of men who exploited the issue of Communism for political advantage. In 1918, America invaded Russia in an attempt at regime change. Meanwhile, on the home front, the first of many congressional investigations of Communism was conducted. Anarchist bombs exploded from coast to coast, leading to the political repression of the Red Scare. Soviet subversion and espionage in the United States began in 1920, under the cover of a trade mission. Franklin Delano Roosevelt granted the Soviets diplomatic recognition in 1933, which gave them an opportunity to expand their spy networks by using their embassy and consulates as espionage hubs. Simultaneously, the American Communist Party provided a recruitment pool for homegrown spies. Martin Dies, Jr., the first congressman to make his name as a Red hunter, developed solid information on Communist subversion through his Un-American Activities Committee. However, its hearings were marred by partisan attacks on the New Deal, presaging McCarthy. The most pervasive period of Soviet espionage came during World War II, when Russia, as an ally of the United States, received military equipment financed under the policy of lend-lease. It was then that highly placed spies operated inside the U.S. government and in America's nuclear facilities. Thanks to the Venona transcripts of KGB cable traffic, we now have a detailed account of wartime Soviet espionage, down to the marital problems of Soviet spies and the KGB's abject efforts to capture deserting Soviet seamen on American soil. During the Truman years, Soviet espionage was in disarray following the defections of Elizabeth Bentley and Igor Gouzenko. The American Communist Party was much diminished by a number of measures, including its expulsion from the labor unions, the prosecution of its leaders under the Smith Act, and the weeding out, under Truman's loyalty program, of subversives in government. As Morgan persuasively establishes, by the time McCarthy exploited the Red issue in 1950, the battle against Communists had been all but won by the Truman administration. In this bold narrative history, Ted Morgan analyzes the paradoxical culture of fear that seized a nation at the height of its power. Using Joseph McCarthy's previously unavailable private papers and recently released transcripts of closed hearings of McCarthy's investigations subcommittee, Morgan provides many new insights into the notorious Red hunter's methods and motives. Full of drama and intrigue, finely etched portraits, and political revelations, Reds brings to life a critical period in American history that has profound relevance to our own time. From the Hardcover edition.
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Publishers Weekly, 2003-10-06 The chief problem with this otherwise lively chronicle is that it can't decide whether it wants to tell a story, argue a thesis or serve as a warning. As a narrative, sometimes exhausting, of a dark side of modern American history, the work serves just fine. Morgan (FDR; Churchill; etc.) brilliantly relates the history of the efforts since the early 1900s to root out "disloyalty" and dissent in the U.S. His cast of characters includes the usual suspects, like George Creel and Joseph McCarthy, as well as a host of people few will have heard of, many of them colorful, some appalling. Wonderfully characterized by Morgan, they help sustain a disturbing narrative that's riveting by its very nature. The book's double thesis, however, is less secure. Morgan's surely right that long before McCarthy appeared on the scene, McCarthyism-the search for subversion and disloyalty and the use of phony evidence to publicize it-was a feature of the American landscape. That the Cold War started early in the last century is, however, stretching things a bit. At times, Morgan overdraws his comparisons between present and past, as when he characterizes American intervention in Russia in 1917 as "regime change." But his lesson is clear: we're making the same mistakes now in the name of national security that we've made time and time again. 16 pages of photos not seen by PW. (On sale Nov. 8) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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