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In Denial: Historians, Communism, and Espionage Hardcover – September 1, 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Left-wing historians' sympathy for American communism is an example of ideological bias and self-deception comparable to Holocaust denial, according to this uncompromising manifesto. Haynes and Klehr, historians and authors of The Secret World of American Communism, rehash major Cold War controversies-including Moscow's financial subsidies to the American Communist Party, the espionage cases against the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss, and American communists' support for the Hitler-Stalin pact-in light of material from recently opened Soviet archives. But their focus is on the response of what they see as a left-wing "revisionist" academic establishment to new revelations about Stalin's crimes and American communists' subservience to Moscow. Taking on leading history journals and prominent scholars like Ellen Schrecker, Eric Foner and Victor Navasky, the authors accuse revisionists of ignoring, downplaying and distorting the mounting evidence of communist espionage and subversion in the United States. Instead of facing facts, they argue, revisionists have propagated a mythology of American communism as a benign, idealistic, home-grown progressive movement destroyed by McCarthyite persecution, a caricature that "resembles more the chaotic New Left of the late 1960s than the rigid Leninist party it was." The authors champion a liberal, anticommunist "traditionalist" historiography, asserting that America's post-war campaign against communist subversion (McCarthy's excesses aside) was "a rational and understandable response to a real danger to American democracy." While their confrontational tone and penchant for academic score-settling will inflame rather than settle these rancorous debates, their incisive analysis and meticulous attention to evidence make this a formidable rejoinder to left-wing orthodoxies.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

John Haynes and Harvey Klehr co-authors of "The Secret World of American Communism" and "Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America."
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books; y First printing edition (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1893554724
  • ISBN-13: 978-1893554726
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,097,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dwayne A. Day on April 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I write about the history of American space policy and strategic reconnaissance and one of the things I strive to do is dig into archives and find newly available sources to further our understanding of events. So I was interested in this book because one of the themes is how some historians of American communism and labor are actually _not_ interested in newly available information because it threatens their worldview. I find it amazing that historians are not trying to get as much of this information as possible.
But there were other amazing aspects of this book. I was aware of people who long denied the brutality of communism. There are certainly many people in academia right now who still write glowing commentaries on Fidel Castro, for instance. But I was not aware that there are current tenured professors of history who write glowingly of Joseph Stalin. Some of the quotes in this book from these people are jaw-dropping (some of them have been reproduced in other reviews on this website). I think that Haynes and Klehr are right to note that it is amazing not only that these people exist, but that some of them hold (or held) prominent positions in academia. They are correct in noting that Holocaust-deniers and Nazi-sympathizers are rare and regularly suppressed by the historian community whereas people who hold equally repugnant views about communism are often held in high esteem by their colleagues.
I attended the Venona conference that they mention, and have read some of their previous works. I am also somewhat familiar with the academic study of the Hiss and Rosenberg cases, where some individuals insisted for decades of their absolute innocence, but are now shown to be massively wrong.
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Format: Hardcover
"In Denial" is one of the seminal books written in our lifetime. While the book's main topic concerns communism and the right and wrong sides in the Cold War, the questions asked in this book can nonetheless be extended to many important questions facing our country today. For example, we potentially face a more lethal and dangerous adversary than international communism, namely Third World and Islamicist terrorism -- yet many refuse to acknowledge this fact. It is not surprising that one of the historians most "in denial" about communism and the Cold War, Eric Foner, was also a leading apologist for the 9/11 terrorists immediately after the event and the subsequent strikes against them in Afghanistan.

This leads to the larger question raised by "In Denial" that applies to any economic, political, geostrategic, or other important current topic: how do we determine truth, what do we do when certain people refuse to admit truth, and what do we do when those people who refuse to admit truth are disproportionately involved in the inculcating of values and teaching of history to current and future generations?

At one point in our existence, we believed that the Sun revolved around the Earth and that the Earth was flat. Once upon a time, Leftist elites in American society and the Western world -- predominantly newspaper editors and reporters, historians, college and university professors, broadcasters -- all believed that socialism and communism were inevitable and superior to American-style capitalism. This dream died in 1989 with the tearing down of the Berlin Wall.
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Format: Hardcover
This book connects the dots between the files in the Soviet archives and the history of the American Communist subversion of the political and economic systems of the United States. The title of this book begs the question as to why the continuum of the state of denial, the one espoused by adherents of Communism - that cruel and inhumane system of repression - still exists in America today?
A part of the answer can be found in that segment of the human condition requiring refusal to acknowledge new facts into an old theory. The reason? - Man's reluctance to change his worldview and the way he fits within it. Seeing yourself differently spells crisis at any age. The re-arranging of ones' assumption model, the one which issues forth expectations based upon a set of assumptions that one adheres to, dubious or otherwise, creates a crisis which often leads to a series of agonizing self reappraisals; a daunting prospect. Thus, it's much easier to cling to an old theory, particularly when it leads to the euphoria of self rightiousness, a condition of unbounded virtue; and, this is one of the essential lures that makes the Communist "faith" so seductive. So, they care for the oppressed, and if you're not with them, then you don't.
Communism differs from religion only in the sense that it promises a utopia here on earth as opposed to one in the after-life. Eric Hoffer's, "the true Believer" speaks to this message rather well.
In the final analysis it matters not what one scored on his SAT's or whether he made the Dean's list, it's only his capacity for self deception which governs the extent to which he will blinker himself. This also holds true for women, perhaps even more so.
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