, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 452-462
Date: 10 Oct 2009

Revising Revisionism: A New Look at American Communism

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Although the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) never became a major player in American political life, it was a significant participant in mainstream politics and the trade union movement in the 1930s and 1940s whose activities evoked tremendous passions among both supporters and opponents. It has also been the focus of sustained attention by historians. An online bibliography of scholarly writing about domestic American communism has more than 9,000 entries, listing hundreds of dissertations and books as well as thousands of published articles, many added in the last decade.

John Earl Haynes, comp. and ed., “American Communism and Anticommunism: A Historian’s Bibliography and Guide to the Literature,” http://www.johnearlhaynes.org/page94.html.

This enormous corpus of works on a political movement that never enlisted more than 88,000 members is filled with fierce debates between “revisionists” convinced that their subjects have been marginalized or unfairly denigrated and opponents less enamo