THE AMERASIA SPY CASE: Prelude to Mc Carthyism by Harvey & Ronald Radosh Klehr

THE AMERASIA SPY CASE: Prelude to Mc Carthyism

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Intriguing account of an all but forgotten episode in Cold War history, by two leading scholars of the period. In February 1945, acting on a tip, the head of the South Asia division of the Office of Strategic Services, bought a copy of a small-circulation, leftist magazine called Amerasia. In its pages he found a story on British-American political relations in newly liberated Indochina--a story in his own words, taken from a classified State Department report that only a few senior government analysts had access to. When government agents raided Amerasia's New York office, they found an array of official documents, some marked ""Top Secret,"" and a trail of evidence showing that near-amateur spies had infiltrated the government with astonishing ease. Granted access to FBI files, Klehr (Politics/Emory Univ.; The Secret World of American Communism, 1983, etc.) and Radosh (History/Adelphi Univ.; The Rosenberg File, 1983) tell what happened next: Of the journalists and government officials charged with espionage, none was convicted, thanks largely to inept prosecution; only two of the half-dozen defendants were punished at all, and then only for unauthorized possession of federal documents. The case would quietly resound for the next few years, until Joseph McCarthy, ""an obscure first-term Republican senator of little distinction,"" revived it with a vengeance in his crusade to rid America of the Red Menace. McCarthy's campaign, the authors point out, was flawed by zealousness and a disregard for constitutional niceties, but it had a basis in reality, as the Arnerasia case showed; as the authors remark, ""not everyone accused of disloyalty or espionage was innocent--regardless of whether the perpetrator could be legally convicted."" This academic study is uncommon for its liveliness and important for all students of the Cold War at home.

Pub Date: Feb. 19th, 1996
Page count: 280pp
Publisher: Univ. of North Carolina