Underground Communists in the McCarthy Period: A Family Memoir

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Examines the decision of American Communists to go underground during the 1950s’ era of McCarthyism. This book contains seven black and white photographs.


“This book is a rarity: a first-hand account of Marxist radicalism, as it unfolds in Brooklyn—the often neglected borough, overshadowed by its putatively more glamorous sibling of Manhattan but actually harboring a breed of activism that has gone mostly unmentioned: until now. From this point forward, the “memoir as history” will be a genre associated with the estimable name of one Daniel Rosenberg. “ – Prof. Gerald Horne, University of Houston

“. . . Rosenberg tells us something that has not been properly or entirely conveyed in existing literature, but tells us something with great potential significance in the twenty-first century.” - Prof. Paul Buhle, Brown University

"This book is an enormously important work, both as a scholarly interpretation and a valuable primary source addition to the history of the US communist movement. Rosenberg’s memoir is also in its own way a valuable addition to Jewish-American history, one that highlights the complexities and diversities within Jewish-American families on questions of politics religion and culture.

Most of all, Rosenberg presents personal and public evidence to counter the conventional wisdom of both the FBI-HUAC oriented anti-communist scholars like Harvey Klehr and Ronald Radosh and their largely liberal critics. These historians typically present images of communists as authoritarian automatons or potential Soviet spies and trivialize the Communist Party’s accomplishments.

Underground Communists in the McCarthy Period does what few other works of its kind have yet done: provide a serious, albeit not uncritical voice that makes sense of what the Communist Party did during the wave of political persecution following World War II.

For those interested in the history of the CPUSA and the American left in general, Underground Communists in the McCarthy Period is an invaluable work, both as analysis of larger events and as a vital memoir of personal experiences." - Political Affairs Magazine

"... combines a memoir of his parents' clandestine experience in the CP in the 1950s with an examination of the part's underground policy of these years. [The author] draws on an extensive range of published and archival primary sources to depict the matrix of fear and persecution that typified the early cold war party experience ... [this] study shows that similar idealism characterised Myra and Murray Rosenburg, an idealism on which the party relied but used unwisely." -- Prof. Eric A. Schuster, Chicago City College and Loyola University, Chicago

"[This book] offers an insightful study of the McCarthy era from the Communist perspective, and provides one of the more balanced and forceful examinations of the Communist Underground, [which will] challenge students and scholars alike to re-evaluate their understanding of the McCarthy era and CPUSA." -- Prof. Gregory S. Taylor, Chowan University

Table of Contents

Preface by Gerald Horne
Introduction: Bert and Judy
1. Inside: Memories of a Communist Family
2. Source: How My Parents Joined the Party
3. Heat: Repression of the Left
4. Freeze: Underground in the McCarthy Era
5. Gone: How We Disappeared
6. Resumption: Family, Career, and Politics
7. Reflection: Analysis of the Underground Policy
8. Option and Impasse: Persecution, Self-Destruction, and Democracy

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