McCarthyism: The Realities, Delusions and Politics Behind the 1950s Red Scare, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover


The Realities, Delusions and Politics Behind the 1950s Red Scare, 1st Edition

By Jonathan Michaels


308 pages

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In this succinct text, Jonathan Michaels examines the rise of anti-communist sentiment in the postwar United States, exploring the factors that facilitated McCarthyism and assessing the long-term effects on US politics and culture. McCarthyism:The Realities, Delusions and Politics Behind the 1950s Red Scare offers an analysis of the ways in which fear of communism manifested in daily American life, giving readers a rich understanding of this era of postwar American history. Including primary documents and a companion website, Michaels’ text presents a fully integrated picture of McCarthyism and the cultural climate of the United States in the aftermath of the Second World War.


This lucid account of the red scare of the early 1950s could hardly be bettered. It rightly places that disturbing phenomenon into a much longer perspective, and it illustrates the whole sorry business with a fascinating range of documents conjuring reds on the campuses and gays in government.

- Michael Heale, Emeritus Professor of History at Lancaster University. UK

The great strength of this highly engaging study is its wide-ranging scope. Michaels traces the long trajectory of virulent anticommunism, detailing its genesis, development and outlook. He effectively analyses both the proponents of "un-Americanism"– a combination of vested business interests, opportunistic politicians and ultra-conservative institutions, organizations and networks – and the corrosive impact of red scare ideology: fear, silence and sharply narrowed boundaries of dissent. It is an important and timely book.

- Phillip Deery, author of Red Apple: Communism and McCarthyism in Cold War New York

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: America and Socialism, Anarchism, and Communism

Chapter 2: The Rise of Anticommunist Sentiment

Chapter 3: The New Deal, The Fair Deal, and Liberalism

Chapter 4: Enormous Shadows: The Irrational Fear of Communists

Chapter 5: The Legacy of the Red Scare

About the Series

Critical Moments in American History

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / United States / General
HISTORY / United States / 20th Century
HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Communism & Socialism
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / Intelligence