- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (March 28, 1991)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195043618
- ISBN-13: 978-0195043617
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.5 x 5.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #870,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Nightmare in Red: The McCarthy Era in Perspective Reprint Edition
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"An excellent, succinct, balanced account that is packed with details and provocative perspectives. Fried's historical context and many details all especially useful."--Michael A. Gordon, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee
"...especially welcome as one of the first, if not the first, general synthetic histories of McCarthyism to appear....augmented by fathomable notes and a very useful bibliographical essay."--Patrick M. Quinn, Wisconsin Magazine of History
"Informed by the best scholarship on the subject, Fried has written a highly useful overview of the entire period....Fried's attempt to be objective, his cogently presented and inclusive overview, and his comprehensible writing make Nightmare in Red and excellent candidate for use in undergraduate classes."--The Journal of American History
"A rogues' gallery of Red Hunters....Fried writes ably, scrupulously presenting both sides of every issue, covering swiftly a very broad topic; no one will ever do a better six-page precis of the Alger Hiss case."--The New York Times Book Review
"Stands out as an even-handed account of an extraordinarily controversial subject. [Fried] succinctly analyzes the major Supreme Court cases, explains how loyalty-security checks actually operated, and follows the investigative escapades of HUAC and the Senate INternal Security Subcommittee."--Leo P. Ribuffo, Dissent
"Like the length and focus on ordinary people, as well as the famous cases. This will be a supplementary required book."--Dorothy E. Desmond, Tabor Academy
"I do not think I have ever read a more terse yet brilliant analysis of the McCarthy era. It is a must read!."--Andrew Harrison, Temple University
"Excellently detailed survey."--Eric Roorda, Ohio University
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.
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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.
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.