Academic journal article American Studies

RED APPLE: Communism and McCarthyism in Cold War New York

Academic journal article American Studies

RED APPLE: Communism and McCarthyism in Cold War New York

Article excerpt

RED APPLE: Communism and McCarthyism in Cold War New York. By Phillip Deery. New York: Fordham University Press. 2014.

Among the many dark pages in American history are the late 1940s and early 1950s, when two committees-the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) and later Senator Joseph McCarthy's-ran roughshod over civil liberties, destroyed or derailed careers, drove some into exile, and others to an early grave. Restricting himself to New York, Deery has written a documentary-like overview of the period, acting as a historian with a conscience who humanizes the victims without canonizing them. None of them would have even wanted a nimbus. The New Yorkers were a diverse group, not all of whom were Communists. Helen Reid Bryan, a fifty- ish Quaker, was not. As administrative secretary of the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee (JAFRC), which HUAC considered a Communist front, she refused to surrender the committee's records and was sentenced to three months imprison- ment. JAFRC chair, Dr. Edward K. Barsky, was also targeted; it did not help that he provided medical aid to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade during the Spanish Civil War. For his humanitarianism, he was sentenced to six months, serving five. Howard Fast, then a committed Communist, watched his career take a nose dive, when his novel, Citizen Tom Paine (1943), was banned in New York secondary schools. Writ- ing jobs dried up, and his radicalism reduced him to a polemicist. Only after Nikita Krushchev revealed the extent of Stalin's crimes in 1956 did Fast leave the Party. …

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