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Final Verdict: What Really Happened in the Rosenberg Case Hardcover – October 12, 2010
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“Walter Schneir’s willingness to acknowledge his own mistakes in the interest of historical truth makes all the more powerful his posthumous argument that new evidence throws light on precisely what Julius and Ethel Rosenberg did and didn’t do. And Miriam Schneir’s preface and afterword make clear why anyone who cares about our democracy should care about the truth of what happened here.”
—Victor Navasky, author of Naming Names and A Matter of Opinion
Praise for Invitation to an Inquest
“A major event in the history of the celebrated case.”
—The New York Times
“Some of the best detective work in modern journalism.”
“Shows that the atom bomb secrets which [the Rosenbergs] were accused of giving the Russians were naïve caricatures of scientific diagrams with little or no value. . . the execution of the Rosenbergs seems more meaningless than ever.”
About the Author
Walter Schneir was a freelance writer on law, politics, and science. He is the co-author, with his wife Miriam Schneir, of Invitation to an Inquest, long considered the definitive book on the Rosenberg case. He is also the editor of Telling It Like It Was: The Chicago Riots and editor of the collection Westmoreland v. CBS. His work appeared in many publications, including The Nation, The New York Times Magazine, Ramparts, The Progressive, and the Times op-ed page. He died in April 2009.
Miriam Schneir is editor of Feminism in Our Time: The Essential Writings, World War II to the Present and Feminism: The Essential Historical Writings. In addition to Invitation to an Inquest, she is also the co-author of “Remember the Ladies”: Women in America, 1750–1815.
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A significant factor in him changing his mind about the Rosenbergs' guilt, is that in the post-Cold War era, "aging KGB stalwarts were eager to tell the world about their espionage feats." (Pg. 40) Documents were released, as well, and "when Walter and I read the pertinent Verona cables, it was immediately evident to us that Julius Rosenberg... had worked as a spy for the Soviet Union... (the data) left no room for doubt that Julius had persuaded friends and political comrades to give technical data from their jobs to the Russians." (Pg. 46)
Concerning their later trial, they wrote, "The charge in the Rosenberg trial was conspiracy to commit espionage; the defendants were all alleged to have been participants in a scheme aimed at obtaining national defence information for the benefit of the Soviet Union. That was certainly true of Julius." (Pg. 86) They assert that the intent of the prosecution was "to convict both Rosenbergs, by any means necessary, and obtain severe sentences in the hope that the threat to Ethel would cause Julius to break." (Pg. 147)
They suggest that "Of course they lied and lied when they contended that they knew nothing about espionage. Ethel knew about it and Julius had practiced it. But they were aware that at their trial a monstrous web of lies had been spun about them, so perhaps they regarded their prevarications as petty by comparison and entirely defensible." (Pg. 155)
This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the Rosenberg trial, or the anti-communism era in general.
The Schneirs' original book Invitation to an Inquest is still worth reading for a lot of information on the case and its context. While some of their conclusions were wrong, on the basis of the information then available, they did their best to establish the truth.
The fact that the Stalinized Communist Party let their members become spies and then attempted to not acknowledge them is scandalous. The fact that there were people who knew the truth and pretended for years they didn't is also outrageous. But compared to people like David Greenglass, whose lies sent his sister to his death? And all the people who turned into snitches or paid liars for imperialism? People who believe in something until it affects them personally?
The crimes of the Soviet Union under Stalin and until it's collapse were terrible. But they don't make US imperialism right. There are more than two choices in the world for people who have the courage and integrity to search for them.
A few suggestions: The Changing Face of U.S. Politics: Working-Class Politics and the Trade Unions;Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power;Cuba and the Coming American Revolution;Capitalism's Long Hot Winter Has Begun, New International, No.12, 2005. (New International Series).
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