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The Age of McCarthyism (The Bedford Series in History and Culture) [Paperback]

Ellen Schrecker
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: £19.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 May 2002 0312393199 978-0312393199 2nd Edition
Incorporating important recent scholarship, the 2nd edition of this highly-successful text combines a comprehensive account of the history of McCarthyism - from its origins in the 1930s through its escalation in the 1940s to its decline in the 1950s - with compelling documents that trace the course of anti-Communist furore in the US.
The second part of the book includes over 47 original documents - congressional transcripts, FBI reports, speeches, and letters - that chronicle the anti-Communist crusade. The essay and selection of documents have been thoroughly updated to reflect new scholarship and recently revealed archival evidence of Soviet spying in the US.

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The Age of McCarthyism (The Bedford Series in History and Culture) + Nightmare in Red: The McCarthy Era in Perspective + McCarthyism, The Great American Red Scare: A Documentary History
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Product details

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 2nd Edition edition (1 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312393199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312393199
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.5 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 526,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

Review comments on 1st edition:

'Schrecker's extended interpretive essay on the nature of McCarthyism and the range of documents make this a great collection. The chronology, glossary, and bibliographical essay are particularly useful for undergraduate teaching. In this new edition Schrecker has done an excellent job of assessing the significance of recent Russian archival revelations, including Communist Party involvement in Soviet espionage activities, for our understanding of what we call McCarthyism.' - James R. Barrett, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

'This documentary collection, which draws upon recently released material from archives in Moscow and Washington, is indispensable for any serious student of one of the most troubling eras in American history. Schrecker's knowledge of the field is encyclopedic, and the historical insights she shares with her readers are powerful, subtle, and persuasive.' - Maurice Isserman, Hamilton College

About the Author

ELLEN SCHRECKER is Professor of History at Yeshiva University.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This book meets the needs of both the scholar and the general reader. It provides an excellent introduction to the causes of McCarthyism and its effects on both celebrity and ordinary Americans. The content is well-balanced, in that it deals with the reality of communist entryism into US institutions whilst quantifying the limited risks that this posed to national security. The supporting source documents complement the text very effectively. The book contains a relatively small amount on McCathy himself and I look forward to the publication of Ellen Schrecker's more comprehensive volume on this subject.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By S Wood TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Or associated with a member of the Communist Party, or joined a group that has Communist Party members, or signed a petition or even shared a name with a member of the Communist Party? In all the above cases which are by no means exhaustive you could be in danger of coming under the "scrutiny" of Joe McCarthy's Un-American Activities Committee or one of its many off-shoots. Ellen Schrecker's short history of the McCarthy era takes a look at what happened in the McCarthy era starting with a brief 100 page history of the main period stretching from the just after the War to the end of McCarthy himself: he had moved on to attacking the Department of Defence and this rather than his attacks on Trade Unionists, Artists and Political Activists was what brought about his demise.

In addition to the short history of the period, Schrecker has included another 150 pages of primary documents that include the summing up of the Judge at the Rosenberg case; verbatim accounts of testimony at McCarthy's Un-American Activities Committee; Joseph McCarthy's "I have in my hand. . ." speech in which he claims that there are 57 (or 205 or 207 - the number varied in each rendition of the speech) Communists in the State Department; and the Supreme Courts judgments on aspects of McCarthyism including the dissenting judgement. There are also a number of photographs, including a rather ridiculous one of a young Richard Nixon hunched over some micro-film magnifying glass in hand: the micro-film was the so-called "Pumpkin papers" - allegedly secreted in a Pumpkin by Whittaker Chambers one of the Joe McCarthy's star witnesses in the "case" against Alger Hiss.
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A handy research tool 20 May 2000
By "chrislapierre" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A good bird's eye view and an easy read, suitable for basic research on American politics in the 1950s. However, lacks anecdotes and a personal touch. Needs to be overhauled with new material that has recently been made available to the public.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read on McCarthyism 23 April 2014
By Robert Allen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The gook is divided into two relatively equal in size parts - the first being an analysis - the second being actual documents (some with only an author selected major parts, though).

Many documents that I've only read about in different books on the Cold War - are present in the second half of the book.

This is a great read that I highly recommend.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?" 6 July 2012
By S Wood - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Or associated with a member of the Communist Party, or joined a group that has Communist Party members, or signed a petition or even shared a name with a member of the Communist Party? In all the above cases which are by no means exhaustive you could be in danger of coming under the "scrutiny" of Joe McCarthy's Un-American Activities Committee or one of its many off-shoots. Ellen Schrecker's short history of the McCarthy era takes a look at what happened in the McCarthy era starting with a brief 100 page history of the main period stretching from the just after the War to the end of McCarthy himself: he had moved on to attacking the Department of Defence and this rather than his attacks on Trade Unionists, Artists and Political Activists was what brought about his demise.

In addition to the short history of the period, Schrecker has included another 150 pages of primary documents that include the summing up of the Judge at the Rosenberg case; verbatim accounts of testimony at McCarthy's Un-American Activities Committee; Joseph McCarthy's "I have in my hand. . ." speech in which he claims that there are 57 (or 205 or 207 - the number varied in each rendition of the speech) Communists in the State Department; and the Supreme Courts judgments on aspects of McCarthyism including the dissenting judgement. There are also a number of photographs, including a rather ridiculous one of a young Richard Nixon hunched over some micro-film magnifying glass in hand: the micro-film was the so-called "Pumpkin papers" - allegedly secreted in a Pumpkin by Whittaker Chambers one of the Joe McCarthy's star witnesses in the "case" against Alger Hiss.

Whatever the rhetorical flourishes about fighting for freedom that accompanied this witch-hunt, the reality is that it effected tens of thousands of people many of whom were active members of Civil Society in Trade Unions, Education, Film, Television and Journalism. They could be dismissed from their positions, coerced into divulging all political activities and acquaintances over periods running back decades, black listed from employment in sectors that went well beyond those which could plausibly be called vital to "national security" including - at the sublimely ridiculous level - an eight year old girl who was refused clearance to act in a television programme for "Political Reasons"!

The period labelled "McCarthyism" (and McCarthy was the tip of the iceberg, or summit of the dunghill?) functioned as a way of narrowing the limits of Political debate, disrupting Trade Unions who would often find themselves coming under the purview of one or other of the Inquisitorial Committees when involved in industrial disputes, curtailing the political side of civil society and creating a climate of harassment and fear. The motivation of those involved would appear to be a strong dislike of the New Deal State that formed in the 1930's in response to the Great Depression - many of those targeted were those who had been involved in setting up and administering the institutions that were created during that time as well as a variety of other issues including the puerile view of the China Lobby, that it was Communist infiltrators in the State Department and not Chiang Kai-Shek who had "lost" China.

In all its Schrecker has written an excellent introduction to the era, and the additional primary documents make fascinating reading. Other books that might be of interest include Eric Foners summary that covers the period from the War of Independence to the end of the 20th Century The Story of American Freedom: The Reality and the Mythic Ideal and Francis Stonor Saunders Who Paid the Piper?: CIA and the Cultural Cold War.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Got it for class. 16 April 2014
By Based God - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good book i guess. i only used it once but for the price it was okay. Buy it if you need it. lol
8 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What Historian? 28 May 2013
By LesLein - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Ronald Radosh describes Ellen Schrecker as "the dean of the anti-anti-Communist historians." That is like being the highest point in Holland. This book gives academia a bad name.

Schrecker's foolishness atarts early. On page two she writes that the age of McCarthyism may have been the most repressive period in American history. Screcker never heard of the Alien and Sedition Acts, the lack of voting rights for minorities, the jailing of dissidents during World War I, the first red scare, or today's campus speech codes.

There are no footnotes in the book. The book reflects a serious lack of research. Schrecker should have read the memoirs of the famous diplomat George Kennan. Kennan denounced McCarthyism at the peak of McCarthy's popularity. Nevertheless, he wrote that "The penetration of the American governmental services by members or agents (conscious or otherwise) of the American Communist Party in the late 1930s was not a figment of the imagination of the hysterical right-wingers of a later decade ... it really existed, and it assumed proportions which, while never overwhelming, were also not trivial." Kennan pointed out that "Whoever could get his case before a court was generally assured of meeting there with a level of justice no smaller than at any other time in recent American history."

By accident or design Schrecker is misleading about the nature of the CPUSA. She says that the CPUSA "supposedly" advocated the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. There is no "supposedly" about it. It was in the CPUSA's constitution (now revised). She doesn't know if CPUSA leaders took direction from the Soviet Union. By now it is well established that they served as Stalin's little helpers. In fact, the CPUSA was an accomplice to Trotsky's assassination.

Schrecker gets the most famous communist espionage case wrong. She writes that there is little material in the famous "Pumpkin Papers" that implicates Alger Hiss. Actually, there were some documents written in Hiss's handwriting or prepared on his wife's typewriter. The Library of Congress said that some documents are highly sensitive. They implicated Hiss enough to get him sent to prison. Schrecker thinks it is revealing that Hiss was never charged with espionage. Anyone familiar with the Hiss case knows that the statute of limitations for espionage had run out; Hiss was convicted of perjury for denying that he worked for the Soviets.

In a book this shoddy there are bound to be errors of omission. Schrecker comes through. She doesn't mention the reason the Hollywood Ten acted in contempt of Congress: Some of them had lied in the Californian legal system and were vulnerable to perjury charges if they told Congress the truth. Nor does Schrecker mention the case of Paul Hughes, paid by the Washington Post, Democratic Party, and Joseph Rauh to inform on McCarthy as his Senate staffer(it turned out that Hughes was a con man who never worked for McCarthy). Schrecker isn't aware that Dalton Trumbo and Lillian Hellman acted as informers and censors. Schrecker may be the last person on earth who is unaware of Hellman's lack of veracity.

So is this book the result of incompetence or deception? Who knows, but the mistakes are all in the same direction. I'm just a history buff. I'm sure that a full-time scholar could find plenty of other howlers. Save your time and money.
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