McCarthyism and the Universities. Ellen W. Schrecker. Oxford University Press, New York, 1986. 464 pp.$24.95.

In 1948 a special committee of the Washington state legislature interrogated 11 University of Washington professors about their connections with the Communist Party. The University, feeling compelled to react to revelations made to the committee, conducted extensive hearings of its own into the activities of three of the 11 who refused to cooperate with the investigation and three others who admitted to being ex-communists but refused to provide names of their former party associates. Ultimately, the three uncooperative witnesses, two of whom admitted to being communists, were dismissed and the three ex-communists were placed on two-year probation.

These events set a pattern that would be widely repeated. During the next five years or so, hundreds of academics—a number of them scientists—were put in the perilous position of being summoned before congressional or...

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