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Nightmare in Red: The McCarthy Era in Perspective by [Fried, Richard M.]
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Nightmare in Red: The McCarthy Era in Perspective Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Length: 247 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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`Mr Fried writes ably, scrupulously presenting both sides of every issue; no-one will ever do a better six page precis of the Alger Hiss case.'The New York Times Book Review

`A richly detailed history of America's ongoing frenzy of fear over communism.'Book World

`well-researched book ... Anyone interested in this short span of American political history will find this erudite book both interesting and absorbing.' The News Line

From the Back Cover

Providing the most complete history of the rise and fall of the phe-nomenon known as McCarthyism, Nightmare in Red offers a riveting and comprehensive account of the many different people who became embroiled in the anti-communist fervor of mid-century America. It traces the second Red Scare's antecedents from the 1930s, to the early years of the Cold War, through the peak of the McCarthy era, and beyond McCarthy's censure to the decline of the House Committee on Un-American Activities in the 1960s.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1199 KB
  • Print Length: 247 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0195043618
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (25 Jan. 1990)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #715,114 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book gives an in depth explanation of the McCarthy era. Although detailed it is still easy to read and understand.
A very useful book for anyone interested in that period.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x98696c78) out of 5 stars 10 reviews
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97fe4b10) out of 5 stars Informative overview of an era of extremism from the right (4.2*s) 31 July 2010
By J. Grattan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This fairly short book provides a good overview of the so-called Second Red Scare occurring in the 1940s and 50s. It was an era of witch hunting, hysteria, paranoia, and demonization. The author covers in some detail the mindset, actions, effects, and pervasiveness of anti-communism in our governments, especially at the federal level, and in the greater society. While there may be the perception that Sen. Joe McCarthy was the principal figure of this Red Scare mania, hence the advent of the term "McCarthyism," denoting uncontrolled extremism and ruthlessness in labeling others as disloyal or otherwise undesirable, in actuality the atmosphere of rabid anti-communism predated the rise of McCarthy by a decade and involved many other officials and committees, ranging from the President to numerous Congressmen. Hence, McCarthy lurks in the book more than being an actual presence. His bombast and rash forays looking for all manner of communists and subversives made him the most visible figure of anticommunism for about four years, 1950-54, but just as assuredly resulted in his self-destruction when he turned his guns on esteemed military leaders. In many ways McCarthy was a creation of the press, who simply could not resist the sensational regardless of truthfulness. But, then again, Edward R. Murrow's "See It Now" show and the round-the-clock coverage of the McCarthy-Army hearings by ABC permitted the American public to witness firsthand McCarthy's bullying. His demise soon followed.

In the early decades of the 20th century more Americans than may be thought turned to socialism, and some to communism, as an answer to the depredations of recession prone capitalism, especially in the Great Depression. However, rightist political elements, already enraged by the New Deal, saw the rising acceptance of communism, including FDR's diplomatic recognition of the USSR in 1933, as not only a threat to security but as an opportunity to discredit FDR's administration. By the early 1940s several responses were underway: the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) under Texas Democrat Martin Dies was investigating subversive activities; the Hatch, Voorhis, and Smith Acts were passed; and lists of individuals and organizations were being compiled by the General Intelligence Div of the FBI, under J. Edgar Hoover, and the Justice Dept. All of these efforts were designed to find subversives or label as a subversive anyone associating with a hostile organization and to prevent them from being employed by the federal gov, if not prosecuted for their membership.

In addition to, or despite, the author focusing on the hysteria of anti-communism, he makes clear that Russian agents had infiltrated key US governmental departments in the 1940s, including the Manhattan Project where the atomic bomb was developed. It is safe to say that many in the intelligentsia of the US in the 30s and 40s were left-leaning, even to the point of flirting with communism. However, rigid conservatives hardly distinguished between alternative thinking, supposedly protected by the First Amendment, and advocacy of the overthrow of the established order. In their eyes "disloyalty," which included flirtations with the left, was rampant. The defection of Soviet spies Igor Gouzenko and Elizabeth Bentley in the mid-40s uncovered Soviet spy rings as well as important spies such as Klaus Fuchs, a German scientist, the Rosenbergs, and the enigmatic Alger Hiss. But the FBI and watchdog bodies hardly stopped at genuine security risks.

After the War, anti-Russian sentiments ratcheted up considerably. At least partly to deflect charges of being soft on Communism, Pres. Truman issued Executive Order 9835 establishing a loyalty-security program for all federal employees. The due-process and "reasonable ground" aspects of that order were scarcely practiced by the many bodies that jumped into the movement to root out subversives. The hounding of the Hollywood Ten, mostly screen writers and directors, by the HUAC and member Richard Nixon, for their communist ties set the tone for the era. The courts rejected their First Amendment defense, that is, their rights to speak or not speak and to assemble peaceably. All served jail terms. Moreover, it represented the start of blacklisting, making future employment nearly impossible. Professors and school teachers were particularly subjected to loyalty grilling. Being either associated with Communists or taking the Fifth Amendment, that is the unwillingness to admit assumed guilt, would often result in being fired. The business community pushed for the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947 that forced union officers to file yearly affidavits disavowing connections with Communism to remain covered by labor laws. Despite the large role that Communists had played in CIO unions since the thirties, the CIO purged eleven unions that refused to abide, a move that the labor movement has never recovered from. Even movements for civil and women's rights were subjected to the red-baiting of McCarthyites, certainly a disgraceful example of opportunism, that is, casting the legitimate concerns of disadvantaged groups as unAmerican or radical.

Numerous worldwide developments exacerbated McCarthyism in the late 40's and early 50's: the blockade of Berlin, the ascension of Communists in Eastern Europe, the creation of the People's Republic of China, Russian success in testing atomic bombs, and the invasion of S. Korea by the North. This is the climate that McCarthy exploited in his so-called coming out speech in March, 1950, whereby he declared that 205 card-carrying Communists worked in the State Dept, a number that he was reluctant to repeat. McCarthy went on to head the Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations, where he became obsessed with the subversive nature of the Voice of America. 1950 also saw the passage of the McCarran Internal Security Act and the establishment of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee (SISS). There, Democrat Pat McCarran became obsessed with showing, ultimately unsuccessfully, that China Hand, Owen Lattimore, was a tool of the Communists.

As predicted by many, McCarthy would overstep his self-assigned mandate to root out subversion. His defiance toward the Senate concerning his accusations of Army disloyalty earned him a formal censure from his fellow Senators in Dec, 1954. His power to intimidate vanished overnight and the Red Scare phenomenon lost some of its dynamic. However, McCarthyism had a momentum that lingered for years with the FBI taking on the predominant role in keeping an eye on subversives and radicals, even resorting to dirty tricks to discredit. As the author points out, the Supreme Court under Justices Earl Warren and William Brennan finally cracked down on the violation of rights that were being so flagrantly abused by the legislation and investigative bodies of the period. He suggests that the US was a bit lucky in those appointments. Who can say how McCarthyism would have been resolved by a more conservative Court?

The author captures that the McCarthy era was highly complex. McCarthyism did have considerable public support: veteran's groups, rural Americans, those opposed to social change, etc. There was genuine fear of the Communist threat and unwelcome social change. However, there is no doubt that those fears were fanned for political gain - something at which McCarthy was quite adept. American ideals of freedom did suffer tremendously in this climate; there was genuine fear of exercising those freedoms. A baseball team changes its name from "Reds" to "Redlegs" out of fear of being associated with communism? And thousands of individuals were materially harmed, losing their livelihoods, usually with no recourse to contest anonymous accusations. Contentions that national security justified such excess simply fail to appreciate the profound tearing of the social fabric from the fanaticism that roamed the land. The penetration of Soviet spy rings was well in hand by the late 40's, making the extremism of the era seem even more questionable. In some respects the most un-American aspect of the entire era was the ruthlessness displayed by elected officials with judicial support in hunting down their fellow Americans. It was a very sad time for American democracy.

Because the era is so complicated with so many actions that were played out over a number of years, it is difficult to write a linear book on the subject, hence the objection of some to its seeming disorganization. But the book is a nice overview of the period with an amazing amount of detail. The author is clearly not enamored of McCarthyism, but the book is hardly a leftist diatribe. On the other hand, some of McCarthy's apologists have not been nearly as balanced.
6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3d66168) out of 5 stars Extremely Detailed Study of the 1950's Red Scare 20 Mar. 2011
By Christopher J. Martin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Many Americans who didn't live through the post-World War II period hear the term "McCarthyism" and immediately think of Senator Joe McCarthy and his charges that he knew of communists in the U.S. State Department. This book by historian Richard M. Fried puts McCarthy and his charges in perspective. McCarthy was hardly alone in his anti-communist stance during the early 1950's, and by the time McCarthy made his speech in 1950 the red scare was already well underway. Fried actually only gives McCarthy a single chapter all to himself, although he does pop up in subsequent chapters.

As Fried demonstrates, people in both the Republican and Democratic parties, as well as civic or trade organizations basically raced each other to try to appear the most anti-communist. I think of the real benefits of this book is how Fried demonstrates that anti-communism wasn't just a federal issue, it trickled down to individual state, county and city politics too. Fried also does a great job of explaining another issue many Americans may not know much about, the Hollywood "blacklists." It was extremely interesting to find out that there were individual corporations who kept blacklists based on Congressional or FBI files and sold those lists to the Hollywood studios so they could ensure that they didn't hire anyone who was on the list.

Parts of the book do get tedious, particularly when Fried discusses a litany of state governments that passed anti-communist legislation. He dwells on that topic I think a little too long. Fried is pretty even handed in his treatment of Republican and Democrats throughout the book, until the epilogue when he turns to a discussion of the 1980's, then his leftist politics come shining through for all to see.

Lastly, for Kindle owners, this book has some issues. The spacing between each word is sometimes quite large but I got used to it and it didn't bother me after a chapter or two. The one thing that did bother me is that the formatting for this book wasn't done properly so I couldn't click on a footnote and get taken to the appropriate footnote. The numbering system for the footnotes looks normal they just don't behave properly. That was definitely an annoyance because at various points I wanted to see what Fried used as evidence to support a certain statement. The newly included page numbers lined up exactly with the dead tree version of the book.

Overall, if someone asked me what one book they should read about "McCarthyism," I'd definitely recommend this one.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3d6606c) out of 5 stars A fascinating era 19 April 2016
By Traveling Cook - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Good short volume dealing with a complex era. It would benefit by a revised edition that includes the Verona files.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x990ec9fc) out of 5 stars Good Writing 3 Dec. 2012
By karengersh - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a good account of a period of time when fear was on the minds of Americans.
How one man was in control.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x980ce2dc) out of 5 stars Five Stars 19 Oct. 2015
By Jan Maurer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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