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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 29, 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: #271,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"If the national memory is ever to reach closure on this tragic episode, Schrecker's analysis is a significant and compelling contribution."--William J. Preston, Jr., Los Angeles Times

"[Schrecker's] thoughtful and earnest new study, Many Are the Crimes, offers the most comprehensive view yet of the process that turned a legal, political, economic, and cultural crusade into `the home front of the Cold War.'"--Henry Mayer, San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle

"A valuable contribution for anyone who would understand the dynamics of the domestic cold war. [Schrecker] has provided an alternative framework that does much to put McCarthyism in America in perspective."--Victor Navasky, The Nation

"Nothing could be more welcome to students and scholars of United States history than the appearance in paperback of Ellen Schrecker's history of the anti-Communist mania which disgraced America in the 1940's and 50's. . . .Schrecker's book is distinguished from its forerunners by its comprehensive scholarship (soundly based in archival research), lucid exposition and calm intelligence."--Hugh Brogan, Time Literary Supplement

"The book's great value is that it brings together recent work on McCarthyism and wonderfully illuminates the relationships between the component parts of that protean culture, and its own extensive original research enhances its authority. It is a true work of scholarship. The depth of Ellen Schreckert's research, her careful analysis and her elegant prose command respect."--M.J. Heale, American Studies

From the Back Cover

"It's all here, carefully researched, well written, and with a detached view of both the pursuers and the pursued. Excellent."--John Kenneth Galbraith, Harvard University

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 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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3 of 3 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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6 of 10 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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6 of 13 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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