Cover for GOLDSTEIN: Political Repression in Modern America: From 1870 to 1976

Political Repression in Modern America

From 1870 to 1976

The dark side of the "land of the free"

Robert Justin Goldstein's Political Repression in Modern America provides the only comprehensive narrative account ever published of significant civil liberties violations concerning political dissidents since the rise of the post-Civil War modern American industrial state. A history of the dark side of the "land of the free," Goldstein's book covers both famous and little-known examples of governmental repression, including reactions to the early labor movement, the Haymarket affair, "little red scares" in 1908, 1935, and 1938-41, the repression of opposition to World War I, the 1919 "great red scare," the McCarthy period, and post-World War II abuses of the intelligence agencies.

Enhanced with a new introduction and an updated bibliography, Political Repression in Modern America remains an essential record of the relentless intolerance that suppresses radical dissent in the United States.


"The most comprehensive study we have of political repression. Students of liberty--and its precarious status in our society--now have the full historical record for the modern era before them."--Jerold S. Auerbach, The Progressive

"The valid work that has been done [by scholars] on radicals and repression has remained in fragments, waiting for someone to piece together a comprehensive analysis of this fugitive material. Robert J. Goldstein has now performed this job. [An] important contribution--an immense, informative and skillful interpretation of a vast, relatively unknown terrain."--William Preston Jr., The Nation

"Today, as politicians across the spectrum attempt to shred our rights in the name of 'security,' Goldstein's book is an excellent resource, showing how calls for 'security' in the United States have historically provided cover for crackdowns on dissent." -- Eric Ruder, Internationalist Socialist Review

"Goldstein's work is enormously significant both for his original perception of the need for a unified look at the continuity and importance of political repression in modern American history and his superb execution of this task. What clearly emerges from this overview is the theme that repression, far from being the exception, is the rule. When dissent begins to effectively challenge the system and threatens to become politically relevant, the forces of repression emerge. Goldstein analyzes the ebb and flow of these forces and their changing sources and character in our pluralistic society. His sobering thoughts about the American political reality are especially welcome in view of our persistent innocence during 'liberal' periods in believing that it can't happen here again. Highly recommended for most collections."--Ken Nash, Library Journal

"Robert Justin Goldstein’s massive work is nothing more nor less than an near comprehensive canvass of major acts of political repression in the United States.  . . .It is a long, shameful history of ordinary working people, radicals and dissenting liberals being subjected to physical assault, denials of the freedoms of speech and assembly, political deportation, loss of job, discriminatory arrest, police surveillance, illegal burglary, wiretapping, interceptions of mail, preventive detention and a range of other violations of basic civil liberties. . . .The work is a useful first step in understanding what is still a commonly unremarked aspect of American political life."--Joel Rogers, Journal of Politics

"Goldstein has gathered an impressive array of secondary sources (for the 1960-75 period, supplemented by serials and government reports) and has constructed the most comprehensive narrative of American political repression around."--Michael Polen, Contemporary Sociology

"Political repression, Robert Justin Goldstein argues, has not been given its due as a factor in the formation of the modern American polity. His extended survey of repressive policies and activities over the past century is a serious attempt to remedy the deficiency, and, at a minimum, his work ought to provoke more intensive investigation of the subject. Goldstein's principal contribution to understanding the problem is his demonstration that repression has been more nearly periodic than episodic, a point that the shifting character of persecutors and persecuted has obscured.  Goldstein has seen through a formidable task and laid down a challenge to future research in the field."--Alan Harper, American Historical Review

"Recurring outbreaks of political repression have been an unfortunate side of American democracy throughout the nation's history. Goldstein's systematic, clear and thoughtful history of this appalling phenomenon should be a warning against complacency."--Frank Freidel, author of Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Rendezvous With Destiny


Robert Justin Goldstein is Professor Emeritus of political science at Oakland University. His books include The Frightful Stage: Political Censorship of the Theater in Nineteenth-Century Europe.

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