Arguments about whether distinctive features of American society, culture, political structure, economic system, or population account for the relative weakness of American radicalism have engaged historians, sociologists, and political scientists for decades. Influential concepts such as "frontier theory" have been linked with the absence of class conflict in America. Other analysts have attributed the failure of the American Left to fierce repression, giving red scares and the McCarthy era as illustrations. Some have linked the American Left's failure to American immigration, winner-take-all elections, and the cultural values of individualism. The Communist Party, one of America's largest and longest lasting radical groups, offers many lessons about how radical political groups can take advantage of-or squander-their opportunities.
Klehr focuses on the theme of American exceptionalism and problems that America's capitalist society raised for Marxism and other radical groups. The Communist Experience in America deals with dissident communist formulations. Such groups included a number of talented men who went on to a variety of political and literary careers. Klehr also deals with fellow travelers, some of whom wrote fascinating essays on American exceptionalism and the decline of political extremism.
In part, Klehr hopes to inspire the same moral outrage about Communism that fuels those dedicated to ensuring that Nazi crimes are never forgotten or obfuscated. Communism, in practice everywhere in the world, also came at enormous human cost. Regardless of their other virtues or qualities, those who supported or defended Communism from the safety of the United States must be called to account. This work does just that; in detail and depth.
Part 1: American Exceptionalism
1. Marxist Theory in Search of America
2. Leninist Theory in Search of America
3. Leninism and Lovestonism
4. Leninism, Lewis Corey, and the Failure of American Socialism
Part 2: American Communism and Its Splinters
5. Immigrant Leadership in the Communist Party United States of America
6. American Communism and the UAW:
New Evidence on an Old Controversy
7. Self-Determination in the Black Belt: Origins of a Communist Policy
8. Moscow Gold: Confirmed at Last?
9. Letter to the Editor: Follow-Up on "Moscow Gold"
10. Communists and the CIO � From the Soviet Archives
11. The End
12. The CPUSA and the Committees of Correspondence
13. Comrades in the Takeover Wars
14. The Case of the Legless Veteran
Part 3: Revisionism/Traditionalism Debate
15. A Vigil against Totalitarianism
16. Seeing Red Seeing Red
17. Fellow Traveling is Alive and Well: The Rosenbergs' New Apologist
18. On the Waterfront without a Clue
19. Radical History
20. The Myth of Premature Antifascism
21. Historiography of American Communism:
An Unsettled Field
22. Professors of Denial
23. Reflections of a Traditionalist Historian
24. Reflections on Anti-Anti-Communism
Part 4: Espionage/Scholarship on Venona Documents
25. The Strange Case of Roosevelt's "Secret Agent"
26. Spy Stories
27. Reflections on Espionage