A Review of M. Stanton Evans’s Blacklisted By History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies (New York: Crown Forum, 2007), 672 pages, $29.95.
Before finishing the history major at the University of Massachusetts, I was required to write a paper on any U.S. senator, with three categorical exceptions. Current senators were off limits. So too were senators who had later become president. Finally, there was the “Joe McCarthy rule.” The ink had been exhausted over the Wisconsin senator, the rationale went, so there was nothing new to discover.
No de jure ban on McCarthy scholarship exists among real historians as it did among wannabes at UMass. But a de facto ban persists.
“He did not discover a single Communist anywhere,” claims historian Thomas Reeves. “Each of McCarthy’s charges was fraudulent,” writes Robert Griffith in The Politics of Fear on McCarthy’s initial broadside against the State Department. Richard Rovere in Senator Joe McCarthy contends that his subject “had failed to identify even one Communist in the State Department.” David Oshinsky concludes in A Conspiracy So Immense that McCarthy “never uncovered a Communist.”
Case closed. What more is there to know?
Quite a bit, argues M. Stanton Evans in Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies. Contradicting Rovere, Oshinsky, Reeves, and company, Evans imparts that McCarthy did not correctly finger a single Communist, but a multitude of them. Evans starts with a round list of ten: Solomon Adler, Cedric Belfrage, T.A. Bisson, Frank Coe, Lauchlin Currie, Harold Glasser, David Karr, Mary Jane Keeney, Leonard Mims, and Franz Neumann. “[W]hen the Venona file was published in 1995, all these McCarthy cases were right there in the decrypts, and each named significantly in the Soviet cables,” Evans explains. “From these identifications (and collateral data from the Kremlin archives) it’s apparent that, rather than being blameless martyrs, all were indeed Communists, Soviet agents, or assets of the KGB, just as McCarthy had suggested and generally speaking even more so.”