First published in 1956, John Sommerville’s classic analysis of the Smith Act indictments of Communist Party leaders from Pennsylvania and Ohio remains one of the most comprehensive discussions of the basic doctrines of Marxist ideology. It is also a condemnation of the U.S. government’s absurd courtroom arguments, reliance on stool pigeons, paid FBI informants, and political charlatans.
With a Foreword by Dr. Denise Lynn, Professor of History at the University of Southern Indiana, author of Where Is Juliet Stuart Poyntz? Gender, Spycraft, and Anti-Stalinism in the Early Cold War, and vice president of the Historians of American Communism, this new edition of Somerville’s classic text is just as relevant today as when it was first written.
Upon its initial release, The Communist Trials and the American Tradition was translated into Swedish, Danish, German, Japanese, and Russian.
In this book, Dr. Somerville demonstrates how the Smith Act trials were, above all, trials of ideas, which history will have to relate to the witchcraft trials, the Inquisition, the heresy trials of the Middle Ages, and ancient prosecutions of unorthodox philosophers. With balanced scholarship and compelling clarity, he draws an unforgettable picture of the effect of anti-Communist hysteria on American freedoms and democracy.