Then, I read Red Star Over Hollywood, a meticulously researched book about the takeover of Hollywood by pro-Communist (really, pro-Soviet) people in the entertainment industry. It flatly contradicted much of what we have believed about that era, and the extent to which Leftist viewpoints dominated (and still do) the film industry.
From that book, I went to reading Witness - the story by Whittaker Chambers of his connection to the Alger Hiss trial. From that book, I began to question much of what I had accepted about the 1950s pushback against Communism.
I've read many other books, but one of the most important was about the Venona Papers - I know, I know, you are (most of you) saying "What?!"
The Venona Papers - from Wikipedia:
For much of its history, knowledge of Venona was restricted even from the highest levels of government. Senior army officers, in consultation with the FBI and CIA, made the decision to restrict knowledge of Venona within the government (even the CIA was not made an active partner until 1952). Army Chief of Staff Omar Bradley, concerned about the White House's history of leaking sensitive information, decided to deny President Truman direct knowledge of the project. The president received the substance of the material only through FBI, Justice Department, and CIA reports on counterintelligence and intelligence matters.
Yeah, that part about keeping Truman informed raised my eyebrows - I don't believe that Bradley was concerned about Truman's loyalty, but the questionable people who surrounded him, and who might find out if Truman was more fully informed.
I strongly urge everyone to read up on the Venona resources; although the archives are still hotly protested by the Leftists, they have not been able to refute the evidence, although they do pick at the details.
What I'm reading online is How Wars are Made. It's a book posted, in full, about the Lendlease program of WWII, and how the Soviets took advantage of it to boost their post-war economy, take over much of Europe, and get the knowledge and materials to make the atom bomb. It created quite a stir when first published, but I doubt anyone under the age of 80 has ever heard of it. The intro to it is pretty standard "anti-Commie" stuff (by the site, not the Major who wrote it), but if you skip past that, it's a fascinating story.
Offline, I'm reading Diane West's American Betrayal - a book that has created quite a controversy. She argues (and provides quite a lot of evidence for) the idea that Soviet agents/allies permeated the US government, before, during, and after WWII. There are those on both sides of the issue - those that think Ms. West went too far, and those that defend her - and her own rebuttal to critics. You might want to read the pros and cons about the book. But, I strongly urge you to follow up by reading the book, itself. There is no substitute for direct examination.
Where do I stand on it? West may be a bit over-the-top in her suspicions about Harry Hopkins and others; however, there is no doubt that their ACTIONS did support, and promote, Soviet supremacy in world affairs. Whether that support was appropriate, given the grave situation before and during WWII, is a legitimate matter for debate.
I favor openness - read both sides, and make up your own mind. In my case, having had exposure to Leftist thinking - in spades - during my undergraduate years, I'm leaning more towards West's premise of widespread Leftist infiltration of government and other institutions, pre and post WWII.
The reality is that we all know the Leftist side of the story - Big, Bad McCarthy unfairly persecutes the innocent Liberal, who is COMPLETELY innocent of any devious activities/associations. That's the story we heard in school - complete with the play The Crucible, by Arthur Miller (himself a Leftist). The story we all got was that the Paranoid Right, who supported McCarthy's investigation into Communists in America (as opposed to the GOOD Right, who condemned him), were decisively PROVEN wrong, and shown to be wrong, on television (and, snidely dissed by a snippy Joseph Welch, whose famous phrase "Have you no sense of decency?" rings triumphantly in Leftist and Liberal ears).
What really happened? Joseph Welch was attempting to shut down a part of the inquiry into the activities of an associate in his law firm (Fred Fisher). He became more and histrionic, culminating in that famous phrase. So, he gained fame for refusing to allow the Senator to investigate possible anti-American activities, a task that they have as part of their mission.
WAS Fred Fisher associated with Communists? Well, he DID belong the the National Lawyers Guild while in college - they were HEAVILY intertwined with the American Communist Party. So, it would seem to be a legitimate inquiry.
I'm on the fence, but leaning towards Conservative thinking in this matter. Were some persons unfairly swept up in the investigations? Possibly. However, many seem to be vigorously exclaiming their TOTAL innocence, while using various means to avoid stating so, under oath (for which, if proven to be lying, they could be prosecuted - as was Alger Hiss). BEING a Communist wasn't then, or now, a crime. LYING about it to Congress was, and is. As Martha Stewart found, it wasn't the actions that caused her trouble, it was lying about it to the government, under oath.