cache 470 320 0 50 92 16777215 0811843 Im McCarthyism and The Communist Threat

Defining Moments

McCarthyism and the Communist Threat

  • Author/Editor: Kevin Hillstrom
  • Binding: Library binding
  • Trim Size: 7 1/4 x 9 1/4
  • Page Count: 224
  • Book Level:
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • ISBN: 978-0-7808-1184-3
  • List Price: $60.00
  • Sample Pages
  • Printable Information Sheet

Web Price: $54.00

America in the 1950s was attacked by an invisible enemy—The Red Scare. As the Cold War with the Soviet Union reached its apex, so did fear and paranoia of communist subversive activity in American society, culture, and, most significantly, politics. It took a junior senator from Wisconsin with a knack for Puritan-style invective to exploit these concerns and launch a Congressional career of startling trajectory. Thus began McCarthyism—the systematic purge of anyone and anything communist from American politics and society. No one was safe, and by the time McCarthy was censured in 1954, the very foundations of the First Amendment had been tested.

Defining Moments: McCarthyism and the Communist Threat presents an authoritative account of the origins and progression of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s staunch anti-Communist politics in 1950s America. It also explores the era’s lasting impact on America’s political and cultural landscape. The volume is organized into three distinct sections—Narrative Overview, Biographies, and Primary Sources—which offer a one-stop resource for student research.

  • The Narrative Overview section provides a detailed, factual account of what led up to Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Congressional hearings, the events and issues during the era, and its legacy in American society
  • The Biographies section presents valuable biographical background on leading figures associated with McCarthyism
  • The Primary Sources section collects a wide variety of pertinent primary source materials from the era, including official documents, song lyrics, memoirs, editorials, and other important works

Other notable features include a glossary of important people, places, and terms; a detailed chronology featuring page references to relevant sections of the narrative; an annotated listing of selected sources for further study; an extensive general bibliography; and a subject index.

Standard Features

  • Library binding, 7 1/4 x 9 1/4
  • 240 pages
  • 30-40 photographs and other illustrations
  • Narrative Overview section: Provides a detailed, factual account of the “defining moment”
  • Biographies section: Presents valuable biographical background on leading figures associated with the event
  • Primary Sources section: Collects a wide variety of pertinent primary source materials from the era
  • Research Topics: Proposes a list of topics suitable for conducting historical research and writing reports, a valuable starting point for student research
  • Source Attribution: Contains references for primary sources and other quoted material that guide users to other historical research resources
  • Glossary of Important People, Places, and Terms: Gives brief definitions for the many terms used in the book
  • Chronology: Highlights the related events in chronological order, along with “see” references that direct the reader to pages in the narrative with additional information
  • Sources for Further Study: Provides annotated citations for selected sources that are most useful to students
  • Bibliography: Lists books, periodicals, web sites, and videos consulted in preparing the volume
  • Subject Index: Includes people, places, organizations, events, and other topics

Research Topics

Each volume in the Defining Moments series covers a wide range of topics that students can use as starting points for further research. Potential research topics for Defining Moments: McCarthyism and the Communist Threat are below:

  • Evaluate the impact of the Russian Revolution of 1917 on American politics
  • Explain the increased popularity of Communism in the United States in the 1930s, when business closures, mass unemployment, and other elements of the Great Depression were at their peak
  • Discuss he advent of the Cold War and its effect on party politics in America
  • Study the creation and development of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), Congress’s leading anti-radical investigative body during the 1940s
  • Analyze the political, social, and economic factors that contributed to divergent views about the relative threat posed by communism among the mid-20th-century U.S. populace
  • Describe the trials of Alger Hiss, the most famous accused spy in U.S. history
  • Track the ways in which Senator Joseph McCarthy’s relationship with the press helped him accrue political power in the early 1950s
  • Investigate the complex and strained relationship between McCarthy and the administration of fellow Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Summarize the “Red-baiting” tactics of McCarthy and their impact on American society
  • Review the lessons and legacy of the McCarthy era on future generations of Americans


“The era of McCarthyism and the Communist Threat lends itself well to the format of this series. The topic is not too broad but has a variety of historical events that can be touched upon leading up to this movement, and explains in detail the origins of American fears about Communism, Communist activity in the United States, and how the Cold War influenced anti-Communist sentiments within the country. … This title will serve as a useful starting point for research on this topic and will serve its intended audience well.”

—American Reference Books Annual, 2012

“McCarthyism and the Communist Threat provides a detailed history of the rise and fall of Senator Joseph McCarthy and his politics, which changed the culture and politics of this country. High school to college-level readers will find this a clear survey explaining the history of American perceptions of communism, Communist activism in this country, and the political rise of McCarthy himself. Biography blends with history in a recommendation for any American history student.”

—The Bookwatch, Aug ’11