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The Secret World of American Communism - Klehr, Harvey; Haynes, John Earl; Firsov, Fridrikh Igorevich - Yale University Press
History
Political Science

Series Information
Annals of Communism Series

The Secret World of American Communism

  • Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes, and Fridrikh Igorevich Firsov; Russian documents translated by Timothy D. Sergay
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For the first time, the hidden world of American communism can be examined with the help of documents from the recently opened archives of the former Soviet Union. By interweaving narrative and documents, the authors of this book present a convincing new picture of the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), one of the most controversial organizations in American public life. Heated debates about whether the Communist Party harbored spies or engaged in espionage have surrounded the party from its inception. This authoritative book provides proof that the CPUSA was involved in various subversive activities. At the same time, it discloses fascinating details about the workings of the party and about the ordinary Americans and CPUSA leaders who participated in its clandestine activities.

The documents presented range from letters by Americans wishing to do international covert work for the Soviet Union to top secret memos between the head of Soviet foreign intelligence, the Comintern, and the CPUSA. They confirm that

--the Soviet Union heavily subsidized the CPUSA and that some prominent Americans laundered money for the Comintern;

--the CPUSA maintained a covert espionage apparatus in the United States with direct ties to Soviet intelligence;

--the testimony of former Communists concerning underground Communist activity in the United States can be substantiated;

--American Communists working in government agencies stole documents and passed them to the CPUSA, which sent them on to Moscow;

--the CPUSA played a role in atomic espionage;

and much more.

An engrossing narrative places the documents in their historical context and explains key figures, organizations, and events. Together the narrative and documents provide a revealing picture of American communism and convey the contradictory passions that drew so many Americans into the Communist movement and eventually tore that movement apart.

Harvey Klehr, the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Politics at Emory University, is also the author of The Heyday of American Communism. John Earl Haynes is a specialist in twentieth-century American history at the Library of Congress. Fridrikh Igorevich Firsov is former head of the Comintern Archive at the Russian Center for the Preservation and Study of Documents of Recent History. All three are working on additional volumes about communism in America.

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