An American Stand

Senator Margaret Chase Smith and the Communist Menace, 19481972

By (author) Eric R. Crouse

Publication date:

17 July 2010

Length of book:

204 pages

Publisher

Lexington Books

ISBN-13: 9780739144428

Margaret Chase Smith was the first woman in American history elected in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the first politician to take a public stand against McCarthyism, and the first woman of a major political party to run for president of the United States. An American Stand: Senator Margaret Chase Smith and the Communist Menace, 1948-1972 explores her engagement with the "masculine" issue of national defense. An unyielding foe of global communism, this Republican senator was the first female Cold Warrior. During the Korean War, she voiced strident anti-communist rhetoric in her newspaper column. Her energetic support for nuclear superiority in the fifties and sixties caused Nikita Khrushchev to describe her as "Satan in the guise of a woman." In the face of growing opposition to America's involvement in Vietnam, Smith remained committed to a clear stand against violent communist expansion. This book examines the exposition of the communist "menace" and the Cold War as a fight between good and evil without sanitization of communist leaders' ruthless actions. For Smith and many others, America's fight against global communism, despite appalling sacrifices of lives and money, made sense because they believed that communism was a vicious, expansionist system with little respect for human life and freedom.
Crouse (Tyndale Univ. College, Canada) has produced a balanced, sympathetic account of Margaret Chase Smith, a moderate Republican anticommunist and the first woman to serve in both the US House and Senate. Crouse focuses on three main aspects of Smith's anticommunist activism: her support of the Korean War and the Vietnam War and, most interestingly, her opposition to the tactics of Joseph McCarthy in the early 1950s. Crouse succeeds where many scholars fail by presenting the views and arguments of both anticommunists and the American Left in a nuanced, sympathetic manner. He also admirably incorporates recent scholarship on the 'crimes of Communism' into his narrative, providing useful points of comparison between the anticommunist rhetoric of his subject and the realities of communist rule. A useful addition to the history of anticommunism in the US and of interest to historians of gender and 20th-century US politics. Summing Up: Recommended