100 books like McCarthyism

By Joe McCarthy,

Here are 100 books that McCarthyism fans have personally recommended if you like McCarthyism. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of The Age of Suspicion

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

From my list on red scares in the USA.

Why am I passionate about this?

Larry Tye is a New York Times bestselling author whose most recent book is Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy. Before that, he was an award-winning reporter at The Boston Globe, where his primary beat was medicine. He also served as the Globe’s environmental reporter, roving national writer, investigative reporter, and sports writer. Tye, who graduated from Brown University, was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1993-94. He taught journalism at Boston University, Northeastern, and Tufts.

Larry's book list on red scares in the USA

Larry Tye Why did Larry love 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.

By James A. Wechsler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Age of Suspicion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York journalist recounts his confrontation with Senator Joe McCarthy and his early involvement with the American Communist Party


Book cover of Joe McCarthy And The Press

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

From my list on red scares in the USA.

Why am I passionate about this?

Larry Tye is a New York Times bestselling author whose most recent book is Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy. Before that, he was an award-winning reporter at The Boston Globe, where his primary beat was medicine. He also served as the Globe’s environmental reporter, roving national writer, investigative reporter, and sports writer. Tye, who graduated from Brown University, was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1993-94. He taught journalism at Boston University, Northeastern, and Tufts.

Larry's book list on red scares in the USA

Larry Tye Why did Larry love 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.

By Edwin R. Bayley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Joe McCarthy And The Press as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a book for historians, journalists - and for all of us who need to remember this turbulent time in our nation's past, and its lessons for today. ""No one who cares about liberty will read Mr. Bayley's masterful study without a shudder about the journalistic cop-outs that contributed to making the nightmare called McCarthyism. This book reminds us that it could happen here, but perhaps will make it harder to happen next time."" - Daniel Schorr


Book cover of Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America

Neal Thompson Author Of Reckoning: Vietnam and America's Cold War Experience, 1945-1991

From my list on America’s path through the Cold War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I entered the United States Army in August 1970, two months after graduation from high school, completed flight school on November 1971, and served a one-year tour of duty in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot in Troop F (Air), 8th US Cavalry, 1st Aviation Brigade. After my discharge, I served an additional 28 years as a helicopter pilot in the Illinois National Guard, retiring in 2003. I graduated from Triton Junior College, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Northwestern University Law School in 1981. My passion for this subject arises, as one would expect, from my status as a veteran. My expertise is based on my own experience and 16 years of research and writing that went into the preparation of my book.

Neal's book list on America’s path through the Cold War

Neal Thompson Why did Neal love this book?

Starting in World War II, American cryptanalysts broke Soviet codes and determined that hundreds of Americans working for the Soviet Union were active within the federal government during the New Deal and throughout the Second World War. Code named Venona, this operation was a closely guarded secret until declassification in 1996. When these intercepts were combined with information acquired from Soviet archives after the collapse of the USSR, they revealed not only a massive penetration of American government, science, and industry by Soviet spies but an American Communist Party that had assisted in these efforts, serving as an arm of Soviet intelligence. In other words (quoting American Communist Party member Alfred Bernstein), “[Joseph] McCarthy was right.” “The system was loaded with Communists.”

By John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Venona as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Only in 1995 did the United States government officially reveal the existence of the super-secret Venona Project. For nearly fifty years American intelligence agents had been decoding thousands of Soviet messages, uncovering an enormous range of espionage activities carried out against the United States during World War II by its own allies. So sensitive was the project in its early years that even President Truman was not informed of its existence. This extraordinary book is the first to examine the Venona messages-documents of unparalleled importance for our understanding of the history and politics of the Stalin era and the early…


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

Jim Elledge Author Of An Angel in Sodom: Henry Gerber and the Birth of the Gay Rights Movement

From my list on gay history before Stonewall.

Why am I passionate about this?

In post-Roe America, gay people face the very real possibility of our rights being stripped from us, underscoring the importance of this adage: “Those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it.” That's why years ago, when I realize that many gay men were ignorant about gay history before Stonewall, I began editing anthologies of gay writings from the past. That led me to writing biographies and histories in which I explore gay men’s experiences, hoping my work shines a light on our forgotten past.

Jim's book list on gay history before Stonewall

Jim Elledge Why did Jim love this book?

One of the darkest events in gay history has been brought to light in Johnson’s book. During the late 1940s and ’50s, the Federal Government engaged in a purge of gay men (and women) who worked in its offices by linking them to communism, an association politicians strengthened as the Cold War progressed. Fueled by their lies and guided by FBI Director (and closeted gay) J. Edgar Hoover, the persecution, called the “Lavender Scare,” spread from Washington, D.C. across the U.S. The government-sanctioned homophobia cost thousands their jobs, families, and friends when their sexuality was made public. Some committed suicide. Having this book at hand helped me understand the complexities of gay men’s lives during this horrific period.

By David K. Johnson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Lavender Scare as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Cold War America, Senator Joseph McCarthy enjoyed tremendous support in the fight against what he called atheistic communism. But that support stemmed less from his wild charges about communists than his more substantiated charges that "sex perverts" had infiltrated government agencies. Although now remembered as an attack on suspected disloyalty, McCarthyism introduced "moral values" into the American political arsenal. Warning of a spreading homosexual menace, McCarthy and his Republican allies learned how to win votes. Winner of three book awards, "The Lavender Scare" masterfully traces the origins of contemporary sexual politics to Cold War hysteria over national security. Drawing…


Book cover of Hidden Hand: Exposing How the Chinese Communist Party Is Reshaping the World

George Magnus Author Of Red Flags: Why XI's China Is in Jeopardy

From my list on on understanding modern China.

Why am I passionate about this?

I used to be Chief Economist at the UK bank SG Warburg and then at UBS, starting out in 1987 and finally cutting the cord in 2016 as Senior Economic Advisor. I visited China twice or three times a year from about 1994 and then the pandemic intervened. After the financial crisis, I decided that China would be the world’s next big thing. So I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out what’s going on there and for the last few years, I've been an associate at the China Centre at Oxford University and SOAS in London. Red Flags was a book I simply had to write. Maybe there’ll be another. We shall see.

George's book list on on understanding modern China

George Magnus Why did George love this book?

While it’s important to get a grip on what’s going on inside China, it\s also essential to appreciate how China presents itself and tries to influence the world and a second but rather different book that does this is this one. But instead of looking at China from an international relations point of view, these authors look at how the Communist Party uses agencies and institutions to not only influence politicians, think tanks, universities, and businesses in other countries - which is by no means unique - but also to interfere, which is more exceptional. 

This book makes a number of claims, and while some may be more soundly based than others, readers should look at the themes in the round and will learn a lot of what they might not have suspected r read about before.

By Clive Hamilton, Mareike Ohlberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hidden Hand as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Heavily sourced, crisply written and deeply alarming.' The Times

'This is a remarkable book with a chilling message.' Guardian

The Chinese Communist Party is determined to reshape the world in its image.

Its decades-long infiltration of the West threatens democracy, human rights, privacy, security and free speech. Throughout North America and Europe, political and business elites, Wall Street, Hollywood, think tanks, universities and the Chinese diaspora are being manipulated with money, pressure and privilege. Hidden Hand reveals the myriad ways the CCP is fulfilling its dream of undermining liberal values and controlling the world.


Book cover of A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century

S. L. Smith Author Of Pray the Rosary with Saint John Paul II

From my list on the life of Pope St. John Paul II.

Why am I passionate about this?

Scott L. Smith, Jr. is a Catholic author, attorney, and theologian. He is the author of Pray the Rosary with Saint John Paul II, the St. Joseph Consecration for Children and Families, along with Fr. Donald Calloway, a new translation of St. Louis de Montfort's Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary. He contributes regularly to his blog, The Scott Smith Blog, and is the co-host of the Catholic Nerds podcast.

S. L.'s book list on the life of Pope St. John Paul II

S. L. Smith Why did S. L. love this book?

I love reading about how the strength of conviction, not strength of arms, defeated Communism. The work of these two leaders, John Paul II and President Reagan, was as consequential as that of Churchill and President Franklin Roosevelt. A lot of their story is known, but a lot remained unknown... until now. 

This is a fascinating portrait of two world leaders that survived assassination. It is a strange coincidence, don't you think? They did. They believed that they were spared by God as part of the "DP," as Reagan spoke of it: the "Divine Plan" to rid the world of Soviet Communism. It is a fight they have passed down to us, as well.  

By Paul Kengor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Pope and a President as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Even as historians credit Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II with hastening the end of the Cold War, they have failed to recognize the depth or significance of the bond that developed between the two leaders. Acclaimed scholar and bestselling author Paul Kengor changes that. In this fascinating book, he reveals a singular bond-which included a spiritual connection between the Catholic pope and the Protestant president-that drove the two men to confront what they knew to be the great evil of the twentieth century: Soviet communism. Reagan and John Paul II almost didn't have the opportunity to forge this…


Book cover of Music in America's Cold War Diplomacy

Nicholas Tochka Author Of Rocking in the Free World: Popular Music and the Politics of Freedom in Postwar America

From my list on making you rethink everything about rock ’n’ roll.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hi, my name is Nick, and I’m a recovering rockist. I’ve collected records and vintage gear; I’ve owned Ray Coleman biographies. I’ve played in garage bands that did terrible punk-rock covers of songs like Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.” I even used to subscribe to Rolling Stone magazine. And most embarrassingly, I believed in the power of rock – to effect political change, to free people’s bodies and minds. But if once I was a true believer, today I’ve become a rock ’n’ roll skeptic. And I hope that this list might help you rethink everything you thought you knew about rock, too.

Nicholas' book list on making you rethink everything about rock ’n’ roll

Nicholas Tochka Why did Nicholas love this book?

During the first decades of the Cold War, the export of American popular culture – and in particular, music – played an important role in projecting soft power abroad.

Fosler-Lussier’s deeply researched and beautifully written book tells the story of the musicians who travelled abroad as part of State Department programs, and how they negotiated an image of the United States in – and through – the musical encounters they had worldwide. An essential Cold War history of how certain sounds became American. 

By Danielle Fosler-Lussier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Music in America's Cold War Diplomacy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During the Cold War, thousands of musicians from the United States traveled the world, sponsored by the U.S. State Department's Cultural Presentations program. Performances of music in many styles classical, rock 'n' roll, folk, blues, and jazz competed with those by traveling Soviet and mainland Chinese artists, enhancing the prestige of American culture. These concerts offered audiences around the world evidence of America's improving race relations, excellent musicianship, and generosity toward other peoples. Through personal contacts and the media, musical diplomacy also created subtle musical, social, and political relationships on a global scale. Although born of state-sponsored tours often conceived…


Book cover of America's Cold War: The Politics of Insecurity

Andrew Payne Author Of War on the Ballot: How the Election Cycle Shapes Presidential Decision-Making in War

From my list on the politics of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I take great pride in having somehow turned a passion for visiting presidential libraries into an academic career. I’ve now conducted extensive research at eight of them, and have future projects lined up to get me to the rest. This experience means I can and frequently do ruin family gatherings by challenging distant relations to quizzes about obscure details involving presidential pets. But it has also left me well-placed to write a number of articles and books exploring how domestic politics shapes the development and execution of U.S. foreign policy. I’ve done this while affiliated with the University of Oxford and, more recently, at City, University of London. 

Andrew's book list on the politics of war

Andrew Payne Why did Andrew love this book?

This was the book that got me hooked on the study of U.S. foreign policy.

I vividly remember debating the grammatical merits of the word “intermestic” with my undergraduate adviser. (Full disclosure: he was a skeptic; I was in favour.) But we both agreed that the term it introduced to describe the connection between the international and domestic dimensions of policy was fundamentally apt.

This remains my go-to book to get up to speed on the domestic politics of any major foreign policy challenge of the Cold War period. And it should be yours, too.

By Campbell Craig, Fredrik Logevall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked America's Cold War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A creative, carefully researched, and incisive analysis of U.S. strategy during the long struggle against the Soviet Union."
-Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy

"Craig and Logevall remind us that American foreign policy is decided as much by domestic pressures as external threats. America's Cold War is history at its provocative best."
-Mark Atwood Lawrence, author of The Vietnam War

The Cold War dominated world affairs during the half century following World War II. America prevailed, but only after fifty years of grim international struggle, costly wars in Korea and Vietnam, trillions of dollars in military spending, and decades of nuclear…


Book cover of Japan and the Wider World: From the Mid-Nineteenth Century to the Present

S.C.M. Paine Author Of The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895: Perceptions, Power, and Primacy

From my list on the origin of the Asian balance of power.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up during the Cold War, I wondered how the United States and the Soviet Union became locked into an existential struggle that threatened to vaporize the planet. So, I studied Russian, Chinese, and Japanese (along with French, Spanish, and German) to learn more. At issue was the global order and the outcome of this struggle depended on the balance of power—not only military power that consumed Soviet attention but also economic power and standards of living that Western voters emphasized. Yet it was Japan that had the workable development model as proven by the Four Asian Tigers (Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan) during the 1960s to 1990s.

S.C.M.'s book list on the origin of the Asian balance of power

S.C.M. Paine Why did S.C.M. love this book?

Shakespeare commented that brevity is the soul of wit. No wasted words in this short book that provides a whirlwind tour of Japanese foreign policy from the mid-nineteenth century to the 1980s. Iriye starts with Japan’s emergence as a great power and takes the story through the end of the Cold War.

By Akira Iriye,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Japan and the Wider World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Akira Iriye assesses Japan's international relations, from a Japanese perspective, in the century and a half since she ended her self-imposed isolation and resumed her place in the international community. The book is the author's own adaptation of two highly successful short studies, up to and after 1945, that he wrote for Japan. It ends with a consideration of Japan's international relations since the end of the Cold War, and her place in the world today. This is history written from within - and there could be no better interpreter of Japan to the West than this most distinguished of…


Book cover of Projections of Power: Framing News, Public Opinion, and U.S. Foreign Policy

Matthew A. Baum Author Of Soft News Goes to War: Public Opinion and American Foreign Policy in the New Media Age

From my list on public opinion and foreign policy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started my career in Washington D.C., where my first job involved conducting strategy meetings with senior civilian and military policy officials regarding potential military conflicts around the world. At the time I was struck by the extent to which senior policymakers worried about whether they would be able to garner and sustain public support for U.S. overseas military operations. This concern often dominated our meetings. It ultimately set me on my course as a scholar, where much of my work has focused on trying to understand what average people think about the world, why they believe what they do, and whether and how their attitudes affect leaders’ decision-making in crisis situations.

Matthew's book list on public opinion and foreign policy

Matthew A. Baum Why did Matthew love this book?

The mass media arguably play a critical intervening role between public opinion and foreign policy. Yet I’ve found that it is much harder to explain how the media, or public opinion, exert such influence than it is to determine what the public thinks or why. This book offers one of the most compelling explanations I’ve found for when and how the media can influence foreign policy, by serving as the intermediary between voters and their leaders. Importantly, Entman shows how media framing of events can influence public support for presidential foreign policy initiatives. It offers a comprehensive and persuasive delineation of the interplay between the media, the public, and political leaders, which I teach every year to my students. 

By Robert M. Entman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Projections of Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

To succeed in foreign policy, U.S. presidents have to sell their versions or framings of political events to the news media and to the public. But since the end of the Cold War, journalists have increasingly resisted presidential views, even offering their own spin on events. What, then, determines whether the media will accept or reject the White House perspective? And what consequences does this new media environment have for policymaking and public opinion?

To answer these questions, Robert M. Entman develops a powerful new model of how media framing works-a model that allows him to explain why the media…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in international relations, communism, and the Red Scare?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about international relations, communism, and the Red Scare.

International Relations Explore 264 books about international relations
Communism Explore 84 books about communism
The Red Scare Explore 5 books about the Red Scare