A flinch-by-flinch examination of both political parties' response to Senator McCarthy and McCarthyism, whose opponents in 1950 had to contend with the disarray of the Democrats, the ascendancy of Southern conservatives, and the party loyalty of Republicans. Truman administration supporters limply feared that a tough counterattack against McCarthy's rehashes of disproven charges would intensify ""coverup"" cries; Truman himself, according to Fried, saw McCarthy as ""simply another Republican fish swimming in a school of red herrings""; after 1952, Democrats hoped Eisenhower would bring McCarthy into line; and meanwhile liberals like Hubert Humphrey launched their own Red purges. Finally McCarthy did himself in with scant Democratic help. Fried argues that both GOP gains at the polls and McCarthy's influence on them were exaggerated then as now, but his overall thesis seems to be that anti-McCarthyites were in fact hopelessly boxed in. The book also denies that the Truman administration's ""loyalty"" programs paved the way for McCarthyism, which is viewed as a mere response to popular feeling and international developments or an extension of past American witchhunts, not as an active bipartisan cold-war tactic. Yet the book's material lends itself to a great range of interpretations, and it offers exceptional breadth and detail on the politics of the 1950-54 period.