Red-Listed: Haunted by the Washington Witch Hunt

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9780201550696: Red-Listed: Haunted by the Washington Witch Hunt
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Recounts the history of loyalty investigations from 1938 on, describes their effects on their usual targets, middle-level career civil servants, and argues that most of them were strong supporters of the New Deal and few, if any, were actual subversives

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Here, Williams (Divine Rebel, 1981) gives voice to those silenced lawyers, academics, and civil servants--the nearly invisible federal employees who filled the government's vital middle ranks--whose lives and careers were destroyed by the federal loyalty program whose purpose was to expose Nazis and Communists in government. Between 1934 and 1974, thousands of federal employees were investigated and either dismissed or bullied into resigning by various committees that suspended protocol and deprived good citizens of their basic rights of privacy, speech, and association in the misguided pursuit of spies--although none were actually identified. Williams focuses on about a dozen victims whose terrible ordeals survive in FBI dossiers, diaries, and--although the subjects are now in their 70s or 80s--in the still painful and embattled conversations of the accused. Jessica Davidson, for instance, a young lawyer working for the NLRB, was forced to resign because she belonged to the Washington Bookshop (a cultural oasis in Washington that for no special reason was placed on the perilous ``Attorney General's List'') even while her colleague stayed on as a demoralized, paranoid, ``mentally paralyzed'' functionary. Another victim, a brilliant self-described ``iconoclast,'' was dismissed, the epithet ``Disloyal'' scrawled across his dossier although he had devoted his life to government service. Meanwhile, Williams says, real Communists evolved into superpatriots and became informers, still justifying themselves 40 years later. Some others, such as Conrad Snow of the State Department, defied Joseph McCarthy and survived--but with diminished stature and reputation. Two ironies emerge from Williams's study: that even as America fought Hitler, its government was not only banning but burning books; and that fear of being branded as disloyal drove out some of the most loyal and talented of public servants just when they were most needed. A balance of chilling documentary evidence with poignant personal reminiscence. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

This is an intriguing and shocking chronicle of one of the darker moments in the history of American civil rights. The author describes a deliberate and systematic effort by the U.S. government to rid itself of so-called "subversives" and "Communist sympathizers." This program of eradication quickly turned into a witch hunt by a coalition of right-wing, anti-Communist congressmen and agency officials against a socially and culturally diverse and gifted group of intelligent and talented government professionals serving during a tense era in world hisotry. Individual case studies highlight the extent to which unsubstantiated allegation, innuendo, and passive association could be used against government employees and places they frequented, such as bookstores. Highly recommended.
- Philip Y. Blue, Dowling Coll. Lib., Oakdale, N.Y.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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