NO IVORY TOWER: McCarthyism and the Universities by Ellen Schrecker

NO IVORY TOWER: McCarthyism and the Universities

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How the fear, real or manufactured, of Communist subversion during the late 1940's and 50's affected the American academic community is the subject of this lengthy, rather plodding, study. Thoroughly (one is tempted to say ""obsessively"") researched, the book traces earlier manifestations of American anti-Communism before turning its attention to the ""Cold War"" and ""McCarthyism."" While the author's research is impressive, there is a sense of dÉjà vu about the entire enterprise. The workings of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, the problems attendant on ""taking the Fifth,"" the reprisals meted out to those witnesses who refused to ""cooperate,"" have all been investigated and reinvestigated over and over. Think of ""the Hollywood Ten""; think of Lillian Hellman. The fact that Schrecker's work deals with academia and the question of ""academic freedom"" just isn't sufficiently dissimilar from previous accounts to warrant a treatise of this size (a lengthy footnote perhaps in the overall history of this appalling period but hardly this gargantuan study--464 pages.). Though, as an academic herself, Schrecker may have higher expectations for members of university communities, many readers will feel that the venality, fear and expediency exhibited by professors, administrators and trustees of the nation's schools were merely another manifestation of a widespread aberration. This becomes a cautionary tale whose warnings have already been sounded.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press