Red Scare or Red Menace?: American Communism and Anticommunism in the Cold War Era

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As one of a handful of American scholars allowed to review documents in newly opened Soviet archives, John Haynes has used fresh evidence to shed new light on the United States' confrontation with communism at home. In a succinct survey, Haynes traces the buildup of the American Communist party (CPUSA) in the twenties and thirties, focuses on the heyday of popular anticommunism from 1945 to 1960, and follows the relative decline of anticommunism as a political issue in the sixties and seventies. Along the way he describes the chief episodes, figures, and institutions of cold war anticommunism, showing how earlier campaigns against domestic fascists and right-wingers provided most all of anti-communism's tactics and weapons. And he dissects the various anticommunist constituencies, analyzing their origins, motives, and activities. Haynes draws on new and incontestable evidence that the Soviet Union heavily subsidized the CPUSA from its earliest days; maintained an underground organization in Washington in the 1930s that reported to the CPUSA and in turn to Moscow on U.S. government activities; and placed CPUSA members in the wartime OSS and OWI, the government's major intelligence and propaganda agencies. He also confirms much of Elizabeth Bentley's 1940s accusations of Communist infiltrations. American Ways Series.

As one of the handful of American scholars allowed to review documents in newly opened Soviet archives, Haynes has used fresh evidence to shed new light on the United States' confrontation with communism at home. Haynes traces the build-up of the American Communist Party in the '20s and '30s to the decline of anticommunism as a political issue in the '60s and '70s.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Times
An antidote to the melioristic revisionism about the Communist Party, so prevalent in mainstream circles of American historiography.
— Arnold Beichman
The Washington Times - Arnold Beichman
An antidote to the melioristic revisionism about the Communist Party, so prevalent in mainstream circles of American historiography.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
According to Haynes, manuscript historian at the Library of Congress, the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA)-whose membership purportedly never exceeded 70,000-was a definite threat to American security. Newly opened Russian archives reveal, for instance, that the CPUSA worked directly with Soviet intelligence officer Vasily Zubilin, who supervised the theft of atomic bomb secrets, and that the CPUSA, which was financed by Moscow, also provided recruits for Soviet intelligence agencies engaged in espionage against the U.S. Outlining reasons for the party's decline after its peak in the 1940s, Haynes cites the failure of Henry Wallace's Progressive Party presidential campaign in 1948, Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin and the massive FBI penetration of the CPUSA. Controversially, Haynes concludes that, despite its excesses during the McCarthy era, the anticommunism of the '40s and '50s was not entirely irrational, given the links between the CPUSA and Soviet espionage. (Feb.)
Library Journal
In 1992, historian Haynes (affiliated with the Library of Congress) was granted access to Soviet archival materials on the American Communist party. He argues in this book that the Soviet Union virtually controlled the activities of the party in the United States, and therefore the party posed a serious threat to U.S. internal security. He documents cases of Communist infiltration of the U.S. government and concludes that Alger Hiss was indeed a Soviet spy and that the party had a hand in stealing secret U.S. atom bomb information during World War II. While Haynes concentrates on Communist activity during the 1940s and 1950s, he also examines the origins of American communism and the key events leading up to-and influencing-the Cold War. More important, Haynes documents the major anti-Communist activities of the period-chiefly within Congress and the labor movement. Even though this is not an exhaustive history of American communism, it will provoke a rethinking of recent U.S. history. Recommended for academic libraries.-Thomas A. Karel, Franklin & Marshall Coll. Lib., Lancaster, Pa.
A survey tracing the origins of American attitudes toward communism from the 1920s and 1930s to the decline of anticommunism as a political issue in the 1960s and 1970s. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566630917
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 12/1/1995
  • Series: American Ways Series
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,071,892
  • Product dimensions: 5.62 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Meet the Author

John E. Haynes, an American historian now at the Library of Congress, has also written Dubious Alliance and has co-edited The Secret World of American Communism.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Preface vii Part 2 COMMUNISM AND ANTICOMMUNISM 3 Chapter 3 The Soviet experience. Origins of American communism. Red Scare. Heyday of the movement. Part 4 FASCISM AND WORLD WAR II 17 Chapter 5 Threat of fascism and fifth columns. Antifascist response in the United States. Roosevelt's foreign policy. The Nazi-Soviet pact. Part 6 THE ROAD TO THE COLD WAR 37 Chapter 7 Disillusion of the peace. Wartime promises—the case of Poland and domestic repercussions. Communist espionage: Amerasia, Gouzenko, the Rosenbergs. Part 8 THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON UN-AMERICAN ACTIVITIES 64 Chapter 9 Early focus on fascism. Dies Committee. Postwar Hollywood hearings. Bentley revelations. Chambers and Hiss. Part 10 VARIETIES OF ANTICOMMUNISM 89 Chapter 11 Evangelical Christians. Catholics and ACTU. The Socialist attack. Trotskyism. Lovestone and labor. Part 12 THE STRUGGLE FOR THE SOUL OF AMERICAN LIBERALISM 113 Chapter 13 Popular Front liberals. Niebuhr and Americans for Democratic Action. State politics. Murray and CIO drive against Communists. Part 14 PARTISANSHIP AND ANTICOMMUNISM 137 Chapter 15 Party politics in the anti-Communist era. Rise and fall of McCarthy. Part 16 ANTICOMMUNISM AT HIGH TIDE 163 Chapter 17 Federal offensive against American Communists. Personnel security programs. FBI activites. The literature of exposure. The uses of anticommunism. Part 18 THE END OF THE ANTI-COMMUNIST ERA 190 Chapter 19 Death of Stalin. Decline of the CPUSA. Influence of the Vietnam War. Part 20 Selected Readings 201 Part 21 Index 205

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