THE AMERICAN INQUISITION: Justice and Injustice in the Cold War by Stanley I. Kutler

THE AMERICAN INQUISITION: Justice and Injustice in the Cold War

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Eight McCarthy era ""case studies""--of some individual interest but little thematic consistency and no aggregate weight. Among the eight, historian Kutler (U. of Wisconsin, Madison) includes stories of people victimized by bureaucrats, not just by courts. Thus, Beatrice Baude's career with the US Information Agency was abruptly terminated in 1953, ostensibly for budget reasons; only after many years and several court battles did she learn that she'd been axed as a security risk--for frequenting a bookstore that was a left-wing rendezvous and for briefly knowing a woman later convicted of espionage. The essay's purpose is to show the Kafkaesque bureaucratic labyrinths involved. An essay on the Passport Office--which denied a passport to Nobel laureate Linus Pauling, among others, for alleged subversive views--is also intended to show bureaucracy run amok. Two of Kutler's subjects, ""Tokyo Rose"" and Ezra Pound, were not thought to be communists or subversives. Ira Ikuko Toguri d'Aguino, a Nisei who happened to be in Japan at the outbreak of the war, was only one of several women whom the GIs called Tokyo Rose. She was prosecuted and convicted of treason, Kutler shows, through a combination of devious journalism and jingoist patriotism. The episode, though a miscarriage of justice (detailed in Masayo Duus' 1979 Tokyo Rose), has nothing to do with the Cold War. Neither has the case of the most famous alleged traitor, Ezra Pound, who was declared insane and never stood trial. Kutler argues that Pound was not insane and should have been judged guilty; the point is that justice can be miscarried through protection as well as persecution. Other, more orthodox chapters deal with the hounding of China expert Owen Lattimore; the interminable (and unsuccessful) effort, by the government and the shipping industry, to convict ILA head Harry Bridges of being a communist; the prosecution of Communist Party leaders under the Smith Act; and the sedition charges--dropped only last year--against journalist John William Powell, who accused the US of germ warfare in Korea. Good introductions to the separate cases--that don't, however, add up to a new perspective.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Hill & Wang/Farrar, Straus & Giroux