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Reds: McCarthyism in Twentieth-Century America

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  86 ratings  ·  20 reviews
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 pol ...more
Paperback, 704 pages
Published November 9th 2004 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2003)
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Christopher Saunders
Sweeping but uneven, often suspect recounting of America's Red Scare. Ted Morgan, a veteran journalist and historian, is perhaps a more accessible writer than other general historians of the McCarthy era, and the book is full of interesting anecdotage and vivid recounting of key events. Still, the book's analysis of America's long history of anticommunism is decidedly mixed. Sometimes, the book is quite effective: Morgan provides excellent insight into how Communists worked with more conventiona ...more
May 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: history buffs
An extremely in-depth chronicle of the history of McCarthyism in 20th century America. Sometimes difficult to read because of the enormous amount of information it includes, but worth it because of how timely the problem of McCarthyism is to today's state of (fear) and affairs in 21st century America.

McCarthyism absolutely fascinates me, and this work does an excellent job of capturing both the details and the fear from that era splendidly. Morgan also creates vivid, often deservedly villainous
Jan 30, 2013 added it
An ambitious effort that starts with the February Revolution and ends with Colin Powell's October 2002 presentations to the UN Security Council. Strongest when dealing with the seldom-explored origins of US-Soviet antagonism and the early days of the Red Scare, Morgan's narrative approach isn't best suited to fill out the broader cultural portrait he aims to paint.

Sep 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
A fascinating history of Red Scares and McCarthyism in 20th century America ... very pertinent today! It's extremely readable but quite long. Overall an enjoyable read!
David Blankenship
Fear and hysteria over the 'other' is not a new American phenomenon, but rather can be traced back to the 'Red Scare' that began in the early 20th century. Perhaps the most famous example of this was the Joseph McCarthy hearings of the 1950s, but the author concludes that the communist threats were already spent by the time he seized on them. The real trouble had come in 1920s and 30s with Communist takeover in the USSR and the depression here in the United States. Legitimate threats to infiltra ...more
Glen Pekin
Jun 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This was my first book by Ted Morgan. I found him completely readable. His research seems trustworthy. As a person of left wing leanings I found it interesting that he had a lot of negative things to say about the rise of Socialism and Communism. Most books I have looked at sort of brush of the pro-soviet sympathies of the 30s as a minor error in judgement on some peoples parts. Morgan gives evidence that a lot of people dropped out of the party not because they stopped believing in communism bu ...more
Steve Smits
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reds must certainly be the most detailed history ever written of communist espionage in the United States and the country's legal and political responses to it. This six-hundred page book covers the topic from the military intervention of the US and allies against the Bolsheviks following WWI to the actions (largely illegal) of the FBI against civil rights and anti-war protests of the 1960's culminating in the false narratives about "Weapons of Mass Destruction" that led to the Iraq war. The aut ...more
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
This is an epic, really a stupendous epic account of the relationship between the US and the covert actions of the Communist revolutionaries that eventually became the govt of the Soviet Union, culminating in Senator McCarthy's hearings designed to root out Communist sympathizers from the US federal government. It's astonishing in its depth and breadth, as the main story (McCarthyism) needs quite a bit of context before it's told, which Morgan begins at the beginning, the US attempts to thwart t ...more
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very well written and researched book that details the pervasive subversion in the US by the Soviets from the early years of the USSR until the end of the McCarthy era (the tale goes longer, see my thoughts on the Epilogue). However, my interpretation of Mr. Morgan's work only reinforces my thoughts that, while McCarthy was reckless, he was essentially right. The American left has made McCarthy a bugaboo, all while ignoring or excusing the traitorous acts of fellow travelers. I think the episo ...more
Apr 06, 2012 added it

If you want a thoroughly exhaustive survey of the history of Communism in America, well, this is it. This book is different from what I was expecting, it went in a lot of directions I didn't anticipate, and it challenged a lot of my assumptions about the topic. I had thought the book would deal more with how the American public responded to Communism, from the 1920's on, and how America treated Communism culturally---but no. Much more with how the US government dealt with communism from the 19
Peter D'Souza
Jul 24, 2012 rated it liked it
A thoroughly detailed and insightful view of the influence of communists on America, starting with 1919 to the present day. The author makes a case that McCarthyism existed long before Joe McCarthy, he merely took red-hunting to an extreme form while showing no regard whatsoever for anyone who remotely got in his way. Against America's imaginary foes McCarthy launched an all-out war until he disgraced himself and, eventually, died a bitter man.

Ted Morgan inadvertently illustrates the close paral
Joseph Sellors
Nov 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic account of the communist fear that spread through America in the 20th century. This book doesn't just look at the era of senator Joseph McCarthy that gives the book its title, but begins at the time of the Bolshevik revolution and carries on throughout the McCarthy witchiest before concluding with how it has been brought into the modern world during the war on terror, albeit in a different form and a different threat. Morgan's account is easy to read and understand and gives a damnin ...more
Oliver Hazan
Feb 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A magnificent book, which covers especially well the long build-up to the Red Scare, including the US reaction to the Russian Revolution, and various switches of allegiance during WWII. Newly open Soviet documents help understanding the spying cases of the 40s and 50s. The collapse of the anti-red movement is clearly explained too.
Ann Tonks
Apr 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Extraordinary amount of history going from Russian Revolution to the Iraq war. Although there are lots of opinions amongst the history it feels well balanced with the people who gave up on the Communists not as brutalised as in some books of the past. If you have any interest in American politics, this is a must read.
Ryan Milbrath
Aug 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
I don't usually like it when journalists write history. They tend to make comparative statements that do not add up and they're writing style indicates little concern with objectivity. However, I do enjoy this book and I think Morgan did a decent job with the topic.
May 20, 2010 rated it liked it
Very informative. An excellent reference, but a long difficult read.
Don Thompson
Was not as interesting as I had hoped. Lots of details and back ground and it was worth the read but it is nothing I would re-read or strongly recommend.
Rick Hautala
Nov 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book spans the Russian Revolution to George W ... with some McCarthy in the middle ... Exhaustive and exhausting and well worth the effort ...
Jun 14, 2013 is currently reading it
This is a good book. Still reading it.
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly detailed... Worth reading
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Born Saint-Charles Armand Gabriel de Gramont*, he used the name Sanche de Gramont as his byline (and also on his books) during the early part of his career. He worked as a journalist for many years, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 for local reporting written under pressure of a deadline. He first came to the United States in 1937, and became a naturalized citizen in February 1977, at wh ...more

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