Legacy of a False Promise

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9780817357290: Legacy of a False Promise
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The compelling story of a teenage girl caught up in the throes of the McCarthy era.

Margaret Fuchs was thirteen in June 1955 when she learned that her parents had been Communists while working for the U.S. government in the 1930s and '40s. This book chronicles the years during which her parents were exposed and her father was subpoenaed before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Eventually he named names, and subsequently lost his job as a law professor at American University, and was blacklisted from teaching ever again. Legacy of a False Promise also details the author's quest as an adult to learn whether or not her parents ever spied for the Soviet Union.

Based on eight years of research using family records, FBI files, American University archives, personal interviews, and the recently declassified Venona cables, Legacy of a False Promise offers unique insights into the McCarthy Era. Most "red-diaper babies" who have written on the subject had parents who refused to give in to HUAC's demands. Singer's work instead recounts the shame and series of betrayals that her father's decision to name names brought to her family. Furthermore, it explores the campaign of the liberal anti-Communist movement to publicize its political position while defending a fired ex-Communist professor, the nature and activities of secret Communist underground cells, and the motivation of New Deal government workers who spied for the Soviets.

This is a poignant meditation on family secrets, father-daughter relationships in times of crisis, teenage loneliness in the midst of trauma, and the effects of parents' actions on the lives of their children. It also serves as a timely reminder of the dangers of sacrificing civil liberties in the name of national security.

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About the Author:

Margaret Fuchs Singer is retired from a 35-year career in special education, and she lives with her husband, Michael Singer, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


“Although I may differ with her analysis here and there, I am in awe of Margaret Singer's brave and relentless attempt to disentangle and illuminate the complex ethical, moral, political and personal issues raised by her experiences growing up as the child of a Communist, turned ex-Communist, turned informer. One might have thought that enough has been written about lives mangled by, and principles betrayed, during the so-called McCarthy years. Legacy of a False Promise shows that one would have been wrong.”--Victor S. Navasky, author of Naming Names

“Lively, personal, and a nice read. . . . I’ve worked with a number of red diaper babies all trying to come to terms with their parents’ pasts, and I think Ms. Singer is to be congratulated for her persistence in writing this book and her forthrightness in telling her story and that of her parents.”—R. Bruce Craig, Executive Director of the National Coalition for History in Washington, D.C., and author of Treasonable Doubt: The Harry Dexter White Spy Case

“What a deep respect I have for this courageous and fascinating book. The daughter’s journey, driven by a need to know the truth, is told with understanding and compassion for her parents, yet never flinches in the face of the often troubling information that is being unearthed by her quest. It has the suspense line of a spy thriller and is also an important historic document about the cold war. I couldn’t put it down.”­—Kim Chernin, author of In My Mother’s House

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780817316747: Legacy of a False Promise: A Daughter's Reckoning

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0817316744 ISBN 13:  9780817316747
Publisher: University Alabama Press, 2009