The American Inquisition, 1945-1960: A Profile of the ""Mccarthy Era""

Cedric Belfrage, Author Thunder's Mouth Press $13.95 (328p) ISBN 978-0-938410-87-4
Belfrage--journalist, novelist and translator--traces the horrors of the single-minded effort to purge this country of Communists. Much of this long-out-of-print text consists of vignettes about villains and victims, from chief inquisitor Joseph McCarthy, who needed a ``gimmick'' to lift him out of obscurity in the Senate, to Zero Mostel, one of the many actors accused and blacklisted. But Belfrage also weaves in the Korean War, the nation's antiblack sentiments and fear of nuclear war with the Soviets, and other related themes. He uses pithy newspaper excerpts and quotes to illustrate just how crazed the country had become. Revlon, for example, changed the name of its Russian Sable face powder to Dark Dark. The material is overwhelming, both in conveying the time, effort and millions of dollars spent in persecuting and prosecuting suspected Communists, and in the sheer number of organizations and individuals cited. Although it is difficult to keep track of the various characters and events, the overall impact of the volume is stunning as Belfrage, himself a target of the Communist witch-hunt, brilliantly re-creates those shameful times. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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