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The Amerasia Spy Case: Prelude to McCarthyism

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The Amerasia affair was the first of the great spy cases of the postwar era. In June 1945, six people associated with the magazine Amerasia were arrested by the FBI and accused of espionage on behalf of the Chinese Communists. But only two, the editor of Amerasia and a minor government employee, were convicted of any offense, and their convictions were merely for unauthorized possession of government documents. Harvey Klehr and Ronald Radosh provide a full-scale history of the first public drama featuring charges...

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Overview

The Amerasia affair was the first of the great spy cases of the postwar era. In June 1945, six people associated with the magazine Amerasia were arrested by the FBI and accused of espionage on behalf of the Chinese Communists. But only two, the editor of Amerasia and a minor government employee, were convicted of any offense, and their convictions were merely for unauthorized possession of government documents. Harvey Klehr and Ronald Radosh provide a full-scale history of the first public drama featuring charges that respectable American citizens had spied for the Communists. The Amerasia case remained a staple in American political life for the next half-decade. It provoked charges by conservatives of a cover-up of extensive Communist infiltration of the government and accusations by liberals of a witch-hunt designed to intimidate the press. And it played a significant role in the hearings held to examine Senator Joseph McCarthy's charge that the State Department had been infiltrated by a clique of 'card carrying Communists.' Klehr and Radosh, the first researchers to have obtained the FBI files on the case, show that a cover-up was indeed orchestrated by prominent government officials.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Anyone with an open mind and a taste for deception will find [this book] valuable, even gripping.

New York Times Book Review

This academic study is uncommon for its liveliness and important for all students of the Cold War at home.

Kirkus Reviews

Path-breaking.

Choice

This is an absorbing book, built on solid sources, engagingly written, and balanced. It deserves wide attention.

Pacific Historical Review

As Harvey Klehr and Ronald Radosh illustrate in their fascinating study, the historical record is often nuanced, ambiguous, and ironic.

Journal of American History

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Less well-known than the Hiss and Rosenberg cases, the Amerasia affair was the first major postwar espionage case, and was cited by Senator Joseph McCarthy as proof of his contention that the State Department had been infiltrated by a clique of ``card carrying'' Communists. The case revolved largely around the arrests of Philip Jaffe, editor of the pro-Communist magazine Amerasia, for conspiracy to commit espionage for the Soviets and of John Stewart Service, one of the State Department's ``China hands,'' who favored Mao's victory over the Nationalists. The authors of this well-researched study, working from FBI files and interviews, reveal new details of Service's efforts to undermine U.S. ambassador Patrick Hurley's diplomatic mission to China in 1945. (``As the Amerasia case ought to teach us,'' they comment, ``not everyone accused of disloyalty or espionage was innocent.'') The study also includes fresh revelations of how lobbyist Thomas Corcoran successfully pressured the Justice Department not to indict the Amerasia defendants; the department feared that a full-scale prosecution would unduly publicize the threat of Communist espionage and embarrass the Truman administration. Klehr is professor of politics at Emory University; Radosh is a history professor at Adelphi. Photos. (Feb.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807822456
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 2/19/1996
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.47 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Harvey Klehr, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Politics at Emory University, is coauthor of The Secret World of American Communism and author of many other books.

Ronald Radosh is Senior Olin Professor of History at Adelphi University and coauthor of The Rosenberg File: The Search for the Truth.

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