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Threatening Anthropology: McCarthyism and the FBI’s Surveillance of Activist Anthropologists
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Top Customer Reviews
Threatening Anthropology is a consuming, thought provoking book. Because there is a lot of dense information I thought I would slowly work my way through this over three or four weeks, but the writing and subject matter pulled me right in and I read it in a few days like I would a well written novel. Price really brings the reader into the story by richly describing the historical setting and then delving into dozens of individual stories telling how several dozen anthropologists like Melville Jacobs, Richard Morgan, Gene Weltfish, Ashley Montague and Margaret Mead were followed and harassed by the FBI because their fights for equality was seen as some sort of foreign communist plot. Price uses extensive FBI documents and correspondence to establish this story and brings an anthropological perspective that made me rethink what McCarthyism was.
I used to wonder if the McCarthy like witch trials could happen again, and Price's detailed analysis and current political developments leave no doubts in my mind that we could do this again very quickly. This book has a lot to say to us all today and deserves to be read by anyone concerned about the abuses of the FBI, CIA and Homeland Security in the war on terrorism, and the past examined here looks a lot like the present.Read more ›
This book will send shockwaves through the anthropological community. It should lead anthropology's historians to rethink their silence on the events documented here. How can it be that we learn so late that so many anthropologists from Franz Boas until now have been tormented by FBI spies? Have others known of these events and remained so silent for so long?
While I studied anthropology during the decades discussed in this book I had no idea that my colleagues suffered the attacks detailed here, but I felt the pressures to avoid controversial advocacy that are documented here. Price may go too far in his criticism of postmodernism's contributions to anthropology's current crisis, but I find the historical positioning of his critique provocative.
Threatening Anthropology should be read by all Americans concerned about the growing powers of the FBI and CIA.
A good book for any general reader questioning the Patriot Act and who wants to know why the FBI had its powers limited before Congress passed the "Patriot Act."
I was overjoyed that Price did not stop with the accepted, formalized "end" of McCarthyism, but rather explained the brief re-emergence of relative "academic freedom" through much of the '60s-'70s and '80s, and the more sophisticated, perhaps more dangerous downward spiral today. The book helps those of us who entered college at a time when Ashley Montagu, Kathleen Gough and so many others were in the news over issues other than their research. Price has prepared a thoroughgoing catalogue of official harassment targeting scholars who operated on now-popularly-accepted assumptions of global human worth and equality.
The paradox is that, while anthropology has to rely on those assumptions if it is to operate as a field of intellectual endeavor, our audience -- any public -- does not, but they pay us anyway. Popular reactions to most anthropological contributions range from wonder to outrage.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a good book to read as an extreme perspective. It makes a very many good points, though some of it is a little melodramatic. Read morePublished 7 months ago by DeadlyHausfrau
This immaculate tome expands our previously taught notions that McCarthyism was simply a witch hunt for Communists when in fact it also persecuted intellectual professionals who... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Patrick D. Applegate
The author's intent -- to examine the impact of McCarthyism on anthropology -- is a good one. Anthropology attracts a lot of liberal minded people (someone told me that they tend... Read morePublished on May 3, 2007 by Rex Chickeneater
Like another reviewer, I was unable to put down this outstanding and exceptionally disturbing book, a work of scholarship which has a much wider audience than anthropologists... Read morePublished on December 18, 2005 by Jeffrey W. Salyer
Strong scholarship supports this new explanation of attacks on academic freedom and activism in the 1950s. Very impressive research and well written. Read morePublished on June 10, 2005 by TJ Cooper