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Editado: Set 30, 2007, 4:21pm

I've been googling quite a bit and have yet to come up with more than general reference. Does anyone know where to find a list of books banned by Joseph McCarthy and The Government Committee on Operations of the Senate?

Edited to un-confuse my McCarthy's. Not enough coffee yet.

Set 30, 2007, 11:10pm

No such list exists, as, despite his best efforts, Senator McCarthy did not have the authority to ban books, nor did any Senatorial committee.

Out 1, 2007, 12:37am

I'm getting this -

McCarthy's committee also targeted the Overseas Library Program. The Government Committee on Operations of the Senate identified and banned over 30,000 books thought to have been written by communist sympathizers or to contain procommunist themes. Many public libraries across the United States removed these books from their shelves.

from here.

And this -

The 1950s were the height of the Cold War between the Communist Soviet Union and the United States. Senator Joseph McCarthy instigated one of the most notorious waves of censorship the nation has ever experienced. It is largely due to McCarthy’s ‘Red Scare’ that the post office in Providence Rhode Island barred Vladimir Lenin’s State and Revolution from entering the country and being delivered to Brown University. McCarthy also had home-grown classics like Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, (1849) which encouraged men to peacefully protest unjust laws, pulled from the shelves of the State-department’s overseas libraries. It was one of more than 300 titles McCarthy had banned or burned

from here.

Editado: Out 1, 2007, 4:10pm

I'd love any links people could provide to background on this - and lists of books, if they exist.

There's an interesting bit of video here: (

You have to scroll down quite a ways to the vid titled "Investigations and censorship during the McCarthy era".

Most of the information I'm finding on the web specifically discusses the America House Libraries, but I'd like to know if actions were taken in US libraries as well. What I'm reading so far, including your second quote above, seems to imply that in this country it was the librarians themselves who pulled/banned books in fear of persecution. I'm also reading articles saying that there were general efforts to ban blacklisted authors but that no hard lists/directives were in place - Just a general, rampant fear of persecution if found carrying blacklisted authors.

But yes, in the overseas libraries materials were definitely banned/pulled by McCarthy.

Out 1, 2007, 4:23pm

I asked Chris Finan, author of From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act : A History of the Fight for Free Speech in America and the president of American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression and got this response...

I don’t have a list of titles. I suggest you look at biographies of McCarthy and his assistant Roy Cohn for descriptions of the campaign they carried out against the overseas libraries operated by the State Department. This campaign helped inspire the creation of the Freedom to Read, a statement issued by the American Library Association and the book publishers in 1953. So, you may find something in books about the development of intellectual freedom policies by the libraries. You should definitely take a look at the history in the ALA Intellectual Freedom Manual.

I'd still be interested in hearing thoughts.

Out 1, 2007, 4:39pm

Well, it is probably safe to assume that the authors who were "voluntarily" blacklisted by Hollywood and/or the major publishing companies were on McCarthy's list.

As for personal suggestions: I loved Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun when I was in high school, but I have no idea how it holds up for someone who has already read a great deal of war literature; I recently read Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage, and would certainly recommend it to any and all individuals who are not averse to reading plays; and I don't remember off of the top of my head any of the remaining authors who were blacklisted...

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Editado: Out 5, 2007, 1:14pm

You probably want to look at The Nightmare Decade: The Life and Times of Senator Joe McCarthy. Fred J. Cook Random House: New York. 1971. It discusses the prosecution of the travel writer Owen Lattimore for supposedly subversive content in his books; they were banned by the USIA, too.

There’s a pretty interesting description on pages 411-3 of a trip Roy Cohn took to Vienna to find out what works by American authors were approved by the Soviets:

“In Vienna Cohn and Schine paid a hasty visit to the Soviet Information Center, where they were observed going through the file cards to determine what works of American authors were deemed acceptable to the Soviet. Armed with this evidence, they then walked the three blocks to the U.S. Information Center--a unit of the much-attacked International Information Administration--and there they conducted some eager researches into our card files to see if we were distributing books that the Russians found acceptable. By this astute cross-checking, they made a momentous discovery. The works of Mark Twain were on display in both the American and Russian information centers.

This was shocking, indeed, and the two young researchers were encouraged to examine the periodicals our information center was displaying. To their horror, they noted that the center did not have copies of those two distinguished American periodicals, The Freeman and the American Legion Magazine. The functionary in charge of the periodical room confessed regretfully that he had never heard of The Freeman, an obscure rightwing propaganda sheet, and he hadn't thought there were enough American legionnaires in Vienna to make it worthwhile stocking the American Legion's contribution to modern literature. Cohn and Schine cluck-clucked at this exhibition of incompetence, left Vienna, and eventually headed home. If they had done nothing else, they had revived an old-time vaudeville line so that correspondents (and many others) took to chanting in derision: "Positively, Mr. Cohn! Absolutely, Mr. Schine!"

Even the humor, however, had a sickness about it as a response to a performance so humiliating for the entire nation. Emmet Hughes perhaps capsuled the effect best in this anecdote:

"One small personal incident, expressive of the shame of it all, still stings in my memory. It came with a visit to my White House office, one spring afternoon, by a crippled German friend whom I had known years earlier in Berlin. The young man had almost blown himself to pieces with a grenade during World War II--in the course of making one of the anti-Nazi underground's several vain attempts upon Hitler's life. And both anger and anguish trembled in this man's voice, as he spoke of the only matter he could discuss. 'You have just sent us, you Americans, two visitors--two new-style American ambassadors, I suppose you call them,' he said. 'Whatever fantastic harm they have done elsewhere, can you imagine their impact in Germany-and on Germans still looking a little skeptically at free government? You are supposed to be the models for all us authoritarian minded Germans. Tell me, my friend--what do I say to my German friends, when they gape at Messrs. Cohn and Schine, and then ask me: 'Is this what you call democracy?'"

There’s some discussion of what happened in the overseas libraries on pages 417-423, including Eisenhower‘s brief opposition to the quite literal, in some cases, book burnings, and lists both some specific authors and titles.

Also, you might find something relevant in the Major Speeches and Debates of Senator Joe McCarthy Delivered in the United States Senate, 1950-1951; U. S. Government Printing Office, 1953.

Out 5, 2007, 3:01pm

Ooh, thank you.

Out 5, 2007, 4:34pm


There was a similar-but-different insiance of bizarre McCarthyite logic during the trial of W E B Du Bois and others for allegedly being unregistered foreign agents. in that instance, one of the prosecuting attorneys attempted to persuade the judge that a person (in this instance, du Bois) could legally be held to be acting as the agent of a third party even if each was unaware of the other`s existence, provided that both were expressing the same views !

David Levering Lewis in his book implies that maybe the prosecution deliberately botched the case as the following day Albert Einstein
was scheduled to appear as Du Bois` character witness and the defendants were due to give evidence on their own behalf, giving them an opportunity to make memorable statements in rebuttal.