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An American Stand: Senator Margaret Chase Smith and the Communist Menace, 1948-1972 [Paperback]

Eric R. Crouse

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Book Description

Feb. 11 2013 073918184X 978-0739181843
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.

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Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman elected to both the U.S. House and Senate, was a mainstay of American anticommunism in the 1950s and 1960s. Eric Crouse's well researched and discerning study of this formidable politician excels at describing the sources, limits, and actions of her determined anticommunist stance. Along the way he also sheds light on the complexities of American foreign policy at a complex time, no better indicated than in Margaret Chase Smith's public stand AGAINST the anticommunist demagoguery of Sen. Joseph McCarthy. This is a fine book. (Mark A. Noll, University of Notre Dame)

With this book, Eric Crouse performs the essential craft of the historian in bringing to our attention the fascinating but too often forgotten figure of Margaret Chase Smith. Using extensive archival research and disciplinary insight, Crouse deftly portrays Smith in her multiple roles: a pioneering woman in the Senate, a principled anti-communist, a voice for ordinary Americans, and, above all, an American original. This book makes an invaluable contribution to scholarship on Cold War history, Congressional studies, anticommunism, and the American character. (William Inboden, Legatum Institute, author of Religion and American Foreign Policy, 1945-1960 The Soul of Containment)

Based on thorough research, An American Stand outdistances other studies of Margaret Chase Smith in analyzing the foreign policy philosophy and stances of this remarkable senator. By presenting extensive historical context, Eric Crouse delivers a more balanced treatment of her fierce anti-Communism than previous historians. (Mark Moyar, U.S. Marine Corps University, author of Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965)

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 (CHOICE)

Crouse skillfully weaves together Smith’s public statements as reported in the press and documented in government records, her letters to constituents in Maine and nationally, and her newspaper column 'Washington and You' and other public writings to demonstrate the constancy of her views on national security. . . .Crouse does an admirable job describing the sexist attacks that began as soon as Smith entered Congress and her responses to critics who doubted her abilities, interrogated the appropriateness of her positions, and even questioned her right to hold office. (New England Quarterly)

About the Author

Eric R. Crouse is associate professor of history at Tyndale University College.

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