The best books on red scares in the USA

Larry Tye Author Of Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy
By Larry Tye

The Books I Picked & Why

McCarthyism: The Fight for America

By Joe McCarthy

McCarthyism: The Fight for America

Why this book?

The fairest way to begin to explore the conspiracy McCarthy and his backers feared is to hear it from the Cassandra himself. Joe lays out his case in this thin volume.


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The Age of Suspicion

By James A. Wechsler

The Age of Suspicion

Why this book?

Wechsler was the editor of The New York Post, a short-lived Communist and lifelong liberal, and a favorite target of McCarthy and McCarthyism. Wechsler’s razor-edged analysis of the era is the ideal counterpoint to McCarthy’s, and offers a lens into the scare’s flesh-and-blood victims.


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Joe McCarthy And The Press

By Edwin R. Bayley

Joe McCarthy And The Press

Why this book?

Bayley, a political reporter for the Milwaukee Journal during McCarthy’s rise and reign, offers riveting details about how the press enabled the Red Scare in a book that is at the same time dispassionate and telling for today.


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Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America

By John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr

Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America

Why this book?

Haynes and Klehr are two of the few Cold War scholars who could be considered neutral, which means they enrage both colleagues who see the second Red Scare as a paranoid reaction and those who see it as a Godsend. In this volume, Haynes and Klehr use newly-unveiled cables between Soviet spies and spymasters to unwind fantasy from reality in the charges leveled by McCarthy and his fellow alarmists.


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The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government

By David K. Johnson

The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government

Why this book?

Reds weren’t the scare’s only bogeymen, as historian Johnson makes clear in this best-ever telling of how McCarthy and his fellow travelers used their trademark tactics to ignite and sustain what became known as the Lavender Scare.


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