Monday, October 29, 2012

New Release: Storrs, The Second Red Scare

Just out from Princeton University Press: The Second Red Scare and the Unmaking of the New Deal Left, by Landon R. Y. Storrs (University of Iowa). Here's a description, from the Press:
The loyalty investigations triggered by the Red Scare of the 1940s and 1950s marginalized many talented women and men who had entered government service during the Great Depression seeking to promote social democracy as a means to economic reform. Their influence over New Deal policymaking and their alliances with progressive labor and consumer movements elicited a powerful reaction from conservatives, who accused them of being subversives. Landon Storrs draws on newly declassified records of the federal employee loyalty program--created in response to fears that Communists were infiltrating the U.S. government--to reveal how disloyalty charges were used to silence these New Dealers and discredit their policies.
Because loyalty investigators rarely distinguished between Communists and other leftists, many noncommunist leftists were forced to leave government or deny their political views. Storrs finds that loyalty defendants were more numerous at higher ranks of the civil service than previously thought, and that many were women, or men with accomplished leftist wives. Uncovering a forceful left-feminist presence in the New Deal, she shows how opponents on the Right exploited popular hostility to powerful women and their "effeminate" spouses. The loyalty program not only destroyed many promising careers, it prohibited discussion of social democratic policy ideas in government circles, narrowing the scope of political discourse to this day.
Through a gripping narrative based on remarkable new sources, Storrs demonstrates how the Second Red Scare undermined the reform potential of the New Deal and crippled the American welfare state.
A few of the blurbs:
"Riveting and timely. Storrs cuts through the endless debates on the impact of the Second Red Scare to show in concrete detail how it destroyed a vibrant social-democratic tradition in American politics. Mining never before used sources, she also demonstrates how important the feminist Left was to the New Deal and how central antifeminism was to the Right. Anyone who cares about the policy challenges of our own time should read this book." --Jacquelyn Hall, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

"This is the most original and important book on the New Deal in years. Landon Storrs reveals for the first time how conservatives silenced visionary social-democratic women and men, who came closer than we've ever realized to creating an inclusive America. With heroic detective work, Storrs has uncovered a national tragedy of epic proportions." --Nancy MacLean, author of Freedom Is Not Enough: The Opening of the American Workplace
I'm particularly excited about this book because of my interest in two individuals that Storrs profiles: Elizabeth Wickenden, the influential liberal policy analyst and reformer, and Bernice Bernstein, a New Deal lawyer who played a prominent role in the drafting of the NRA codes and the administration of the Social Security Act. But I suspect that the book will attract readers from many fields, including women's history, political history, social welfare history, and the history of the administrative state.

The TOC and Introduction are available here.