by Ted Morgan
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Reds by Ted Morgan

In this landmark work, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Ted Morgan examines the McCarthyite strain in American politics, from its origins in the period that followed the Bolshevik Revolution to the present. Morgan argues that Senator Joseph McCarthy did not emerge in a vacuum—he was, rather, the most prominent in a long line of men who exploited the issue of Communism for political advantage.

In 1918, America invaded Russia in an attempt at regime change. Meanwhile, on the home front, the first of many congressional investigations of Communism was conducted. Anarchist bombs exploded from coast to coast, leading to the political repression of the Red Scare.

Soviet subversion and espionage in the United States began in 1920, under the cover of a trade mission. Franklin Delano Roosevelt granted the Soviets diplomatic recognition in 1933, which gave them an opportunity to expand their spy networks by using their embassy and consulates as espionage hubs. Simultaneously, the American Communist Party provided a recruitment pool for homegrown spies. Martin Dies, Jr., the first congressman to make his name as a Red hunter, developed solid information on Communist subversion through his Un-American Activities Committee. However, its hearings were marred by partisan attacks on the New Deal, presaging McCarthy.

The most pervasive period of Soviet espionage came during World War II, when Russia, as an ally of the United States, received military equipment financed under the policy of lend-lease. It was then that highly placed spies operated inside the U.S. government and in America’s nuclear facilities. Thanks to the Venona transcripts of KGB cable traffic, we now have a detailed account of wartime Soviet espionage, down to the marital problems of Soviet spies and the KGB’s abject efforts to capture deserting Soviet seamen on American soil.

During the Truman years, Soviet espionage was in disarray following the defections of Elizabeth Bentley and Igor Gouzenko. The American Communist Party was much diminished by a number of measures, including its expulsion from the labor unions, the prosecution of its leaders under the Smith Act, and the weeding out, under Truman’s loyalty program, of subversives in government. As Morgan persuasively establishes, by the time McCarthy exploited the Red issue in 1950, the battle against Communists had been all but won by the Truman administration.

In this bold narrative history, Ted Morgan analyzes the paradoxical culture of fear that seized a nation at the height of its power. Using Joseph McCarthy’s previously unavailable private papers and recently released transcripts of closed hearings of McCarthy’s investigations subcommittee, Morgan provides many new insights into the notorious Red hunter’s methods and motives.

Full of drama and intrigue, finely etched portraits, and political revelations, Reds brings to life a critical period in American history that has profound relevance to our own time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812973020
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/09/2004
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 704
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Ted Morgan is the author of FDR; Churchill, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Somerset Maugham, a finalist for the National Book Award; and two epic narrative histories of America, Wilderness at Dawn: The Settling of the North American Continent and A Shovel of Stars: The Making of the American West—1800 to the Present. He lives in New York.

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Reds 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Babaganouj More than 1 year ago
Sloppy research ruins a good topic. The writing style is smooth. I like how the story of Soviet spies is confirmed by the Venona papers.

HOWEEVER, the research is sloppy. If the publisher had a fact checker, he or she should have been fired.

Inexcusable errors. The CPUSA slogan was "Communism is 20th Century Americanism." Morgan says "Communism is Americanism."

It is Moiseye Olgin (variation of Moses), not Misha Olgan (variation of Michael).

Harry Gold lived in a house on Kindred Street with his father and brother. He did not live in an apartment.

The Federal women's prison at Alderson is in West Virginia, not near Seattle.

With mistakes such as these, can anyone trust the details in this book.

Shame on the writer and the publisher
Guest More than 1 year ago
American history in the 20th century has been marked by anti-communist hysteria. While it is beyond doubt that some of the statements about communist influence were correct, the hysteria lay in the elevation of an essentially minor threat to a very great one. This book lays out the history of the time from the Russian Revolution to the time of McCarthy. The book is long, but very interesting if you wish to learn some good detail about the actual events. I did not see a strong ideological bias in the book my orientation is pretty liberal. 'Ted Morgan' is a reporter, and he sticks mostly with a 'just the facts, M'am' approach.