Was the communist witch hunt unleashed by Senator Joe McCarthy an aberration, or has red scare politics been a part of US political life since the 1930s? Was McCarthyism a populist or an elitist phenomenon? Was Senator McCarthy virtually irrelevant to the phenomenon? This book shows that some of the contending interpretations of McCarthyism are mutually compatible and reveals the importance of pressures usually overlooked. The author's study of Joe McCarthy's "hinterland" in the American states, demonstrates that what is usually called McCarthyism was part of a political cycle, that emerged in the 1930s and took two decades to run its course.
M. J. HEALE is Professor of American History at Lancaster University.