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Many Are the Crimes Paperback – August 29, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0691048703 ISBN-10: 0691048703 Edition: With a New preface to the paperback edition by Ellen Schrecker

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Product Details

  • Series: Princeton Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; With a New preface to the paperback edition by Ellen Schrecker edition (August 9, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691048703
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691048703
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #234,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Ellen Schrecker's history of the American anticommunist movement provides a much-needed objective perspective on one of the most troubling periods in twentieth-century politics. While she refuses to excuse the flaws of the American Communist party or its individual members and leaders, she is also bluntly honest about the systematic persecution they experienced at the hands of conservatives--and more than a few liberals.

Schrecker reaches back in history to examine the roots of McCarthyism in the activity of Communists in the 1930s, as well as the response to that activity; not nearly enough people today recall that the House Committee on Un-American Activities, the forerunner to Sen. Joseph McCarthy's Army hearings, received its mandate back in 1938. She reveals the dishonest practices of McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover, and other professional anticommunists, and how the media often played--wittingly or unwittingly--right into their hands. One Washington-based journalist of the time would later say, "McCarthy was a dream story. I wasn't off page one for four years."

But Schrecker commands attention most when she writes of the effects of the anticommunist movement on men and women like union activist Clinton Jencks, one of the first men to be prosecuted under the Taft-Hartley Act, and of its stifling effect of leftist politics, particularly within the civil rights movement. The longterm consequences of McCarthyism, especially its proof of the ease with which a democratic government can adopt methods of political repression, are felt in America to this day. Many Are the Crimes is not only excellent history, but a powerful cautionary tale that should be required reading for any participant in modern politics. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Why did so many Americans collaborate with the domestic political repression of the late 1940s and 1950s, asks Schrecker (The Age of McCarthyism, St. Martin's, 1994), who argues that McCarthyism was far more than the antics of Wisconsin's Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy (1908-57). Schrecker exposes several McCarthyisms, identifying separate brands with separate agendas and ways of operating whose shared consensus on communism mediated their collaboration. Probing the many corners where McCarthyism prowled, she fingers a set of professional anti-Communists who deftly maneuvered federal officials under the guise of patriotism to adopt the indiscriminate crusade that treated dissent as disloyalty. Her focus is sharp and sweeping and her sources broad, ranging from the FBI, HUAC, NSA, and the KGB to the personal papers of various individuals. Schrecker's deft reconstruction of the longest wave of political repression in our history is recommended for all collections on U.S. history and politics.?Thomas Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R. L. Huff on May 13, 2012
Ellen Schrecker has authored the definitive work on America's "Iron Curtain Age" of the cold war, specifically its McCarthyite nadir. From labor to feminism to social work to journalism, academia, and Hollywood, this Stalinism-in-reverse dropped like a cold guillotine across American society and hacked apart far too many lives, needlessly and unjustly.

As to those who raise Venona files and other unearthed KGB documents as rehabilitating McCarthyism, finally justifying his crusade, one need only examine the single case of John Hopkins academic Owen Lattimore to see how vapid, inept, and morally deceitful was both McCarthy and his subsequent rehabilitators. One must ask that if Stalin's victims could have been "proven," through declassified German files, to have been in contact with the Third Reich, would that have justified the back-stabbing, sweeping purges, and mass terror inflicted on Soviet society?

For every single "enemy of the people" smashed by Yezhov/McCarthy were a thousand whose only crime was to think the opposite of those who ruled them. Fortunately, McCarthy and his supporters never got the chance for mass bloodletting - no doubt much to their regret - and their victims could be rehabilitated. But the lasting damage to social justice and democracy in America lingers yet, and is still a warning to our time. Even in the "New Age" of the "War on Terror" with its Patriot Act and Homeland Security, its protagonists must tiptoe around the excretia deposited across the American cultural and legal landscape by Joseph McCarthy and his fans.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Grattan VINE VOICE on August 12, 2010
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This book is a wide-ranging look at perhaps the most politically repressive era in US history, commonly referred to as McCarthyism, extending for the better part of two full decades beginning around 1940. In that period, it was widely held that anyone directly or indirectly belonging to the Communist Party or associating with such persons was by definition considered to be both disloyal and a security risk for the US, and thereby a suitable subject for investigation, harassment, job loss, and prosecution. One of the most disturbing aspects of the unrelenting search for Communists and leftists is that security threats to the US were highly exaggerated. Using disclosures from Soviet archives and secret communiqués, the author makes evident that alleged Soviet espionage during WWII (and they were our ally) had been well contained by the mid-40s, which suggests that investigative bodies and others had an agenda beyond security concerns. The author maintains that McCarthyism conveniently "fulfilled a number of long-standing right-wing objectives." Here was an opportunity for conservatives to discredit, if not harm, those who challenged the economic or cultural order by painting them as closet Communists and threatening to the US, thereby subject to the same censures.

The author's approach is generally chronological, though she roams freely across the era to describe specific aspects of the anti-communism movement. She briefly covers the origins of the communist party/movement in the US and the longstanding efforts to suppress it starting with the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and the First Red Scare that quickly followed.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By David M. Sapadin on May 7, 2007
In one of the more elegantly written academic histories Ellen Schrecker kicks over all the stones in her thorough and balanced examination of one of the worst periods of political repression in US History. Certainly sympathetic to the left, Schrecker nevertheless does not allow the American CP off the hook. To the contrary, she is open and detailed about discussing their shortcomings. On the other hand, the tremendous repression directed solely at the far left ended up decimating it in the United States. It no longer existed after McCarthyism, which, by the way, Schrecker reminds us actually started under Harry Truman. The net result of annihilating the far left in America was and has been that the "middle" moved to the right. And so here we are...

Highly recommended.
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7 of 14 people found the following review helpful By "addamski" on February 5, 2000
This book offers a relatively comprehensive account of McCarthyism. Schrecker reveals the origins of it, and how many of it's advocates manipulated the movement for their own ends. More importantly, the author also examines the harmful long reaching consequences both direct and indirect. Whilst in Britain socialism and communism helped provide the pressure that rung concessions from the elite's resulting in a proper universal welfare state and the national health service (two much treasured institutions until Thatcher and her goons set about trying to dismantle them), in America that pressure was met by the Hoover/ McCarthy clamp down that obliterated the movement hence the free market dominance of today.
However Schrecker should also be applauded for her objectivity, whereby she makes every effort to reveal both sides of the argument despite her hostility to McCarthyism. For example she details how the Communist Party threw away the good practical work it was doing in the 30's in favour of Leninist and stalinist dogma, thus providing several of the nails for it's own coffin.
The only real weakness in this book is it's poor organisation. Instead of relaying the tale chronologically, Schrecker opts for a subject by subject account, thus resulting in much going back and forth. Overall however, it is certainly worth a read due to the important subject matter, and the worrying fact that it is probably one or two terrorist bombs from happening again (though on a lesser scale) to muslims.
Those who criticise the book on the grounds that some of the persecuted were actually spies, have missed the point Schrecker is trying to make.
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