Review Detail

Timely Political Discussion
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Learning Value
Starting with Vladimir Lenin's evolution in the early 1900s, Marrin gives a really complete overview of Communism and the reaction to it in the world and in the US specifically. Starting with the parameters and role of Communism in the USSR, it then covers the spread of the political belief in the US, and its involvement in the racial problems of the 1930s and 40s. Stalin and World War II are covered, giving a lot of background for the biggest part of this book, the Cold War. The Red Scare and the devastation caused by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in Hollywood are covered, along with the fear of atomic bombs and spies. Special attention is given to the Rosenberg Spy Ring as well as Joe McCarthy's investigations. There is a lengthy epilogue covering history from Stalin's death to the present, and addressing how the history of Communism comes into play even today.

The book has extensive end notes as well as a lengthy list of selected sources for further investigation, picture credits, and a complete and helpful index.
Good Points
Like this author's other middle grade and young adult nonfiction books, Flesh & Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy(2011), Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience During World War II (2016) and Very, Very, Very Dreadful: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918 (2018), A Time of Fear is a great book that addresses real concerns about current political situations through the lens of history.

This is a complete and well-researched volume on Communism in the 20th century and is an excellent reference for any investigation students might want to do for school projects or personal enlightenment. There are plenty of period pictures, as well as maps, documents, and newspaper articles to support the text. It's a bit lengthy and very dense, but readers who are very interested in this time period will soak up every word.

It's been hard to find nonfiction books about the Cold War to go along with excellent fiction titles like Rosengren's Cold War on Maplewood Street, Holbrook's The Enemy, Elliot's Suspect Red, and Kidd's The Year of the Bomb. This is an excellent overview, and might even lead readers to pick up Brimner's Blacklisted! : Hollywood, the Cold War, and the First Amendment, which gives even more information about how the Red Scare affected Hollywood and its actors.
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