Conservatives divided over a book that claims US foreign policy in WW II was directed by Moscow (more or less)

Historians in the News
tags: Communism, conservatism, FDR, McCarthyism




THE BOOK:  AMERICAN BETRAYAL, THE SECRET ASSAULT ON OUR NATION'S CHARACTER

Publisher's description:

Part real-life thriller, part national tragedy, American Betrayal lights up the massive, Moscow-directed penetration of America’s most hallowed halls of power, revealing not just the familiar struggle between Communism and the Free World, but the hidden war between those wishing to conceal the truth and those trying to expose the increasingly official web of lies.

American Betrayal is America’s lost history, a chronicle that pits Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight David Eisenhower, and other American icons who shielded overlapping Communist conspiracies against the investigators, politicians, defectors, and others (including Senator Joseph McCarthy) who tried to tell the American people the truth.

American Betrayal shatters the approved histories of an era that begins with FDR’s first inauguration, when “happy days” are supposed to be here again, and ends when we “win” the Cold War. It is here, amid the rubble, where Diana West focuses on the World War II--Cold War deal with the devil in which America surrendered her principles in exchange for a series of Big Lies whose preservation soon became the basis of our leaders’ own self-preservation. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  DIANA WEST

She describes herself this way:

With the publication of my second book, "American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character," I am looking forward to a vigorous debate about my findings, which led me to conclude that far too much of our history (and thus our understanding of ourselves as a people) has been based on a series of Big Lies promoted by an infiltrated, penetrated and subverted US government, from the the days of FDR forward. The admittedly sweeping nature of my claims convinced my editor, St. Martin's Press's Michael Flamini, to include every single one of my 961 endnotes in the book -- just to make sure people could see the same evidence I did.

I am a journalist, not a historian, although writing a syndicated weekly newspaper column since 1999 makes me one of those first-drafters of history. Indeed, I came very close to completing a History major at my alma mater, Yale, until changing my major to English after deciding I preferred the fiction of the Ages to the politics of the History Department. After about twenty years as a journalist (and about 15 as the mother of twins), my first book, "The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization" came out in 2007, also with St Martin's Press, and also with editor Michael Flamini.

Shortly after I began researching and writing "American Betrayal" back in 2009, I began to feel as though I were forging a new genre, "investigative history." As I mined the discarded documents and memoirs and came across new (to me) historical figures and even heroes of the past, I realized I was engaging in an effort to reclaim what stands as a lost history -- our lost history.

IN DEFENSE OF THE BOOK

Jeff Lipkes, the author of Politics, Religion and Classical Political Economy in Britain and Rehearsals:  The German Army in Belgium, August 1914 (link):   

American Betrayal is a strikingly original book -- the jigsaw puzzle pieces have not been put together in quite this way before.  But both Radosh and West have an interest in exaggerating its originality. West’s attitude toward historians who have written on Soviet intelligence operations in the U.S. is sometimes ambivalent.  She cites them, and sometimes quotes them, but in several places she criticizes their myopia.  In the first instance, she complains that even “the greatest scholars of Soviet espionage” have minimized the impact of agents, in particular the connection between the theft of atomic secrets by the Rosenbergs and the Korean War.  She cites a sentence in the The Haunted Wood, by Weinstein and Vassiliev, calling it “typical.”   But she has just quoted two books that make the link, Romerstein and Breindel’s Venona Secrets and Haynes, Klehr, and Vassiliev’s Spies.  Haynes and Klehr’s Venona also discusses the connection.  That’s three out of four books.  Later she generalizes a criticism of Andrew to seemingly include other writers as well.  

M. Stanton Evans, author of Blacklisted by History (link):

This explosive book is a long-needed answer to court histories that continue to obscure key facts about our backstage war with Moscow. Must-reading for serious students of security issues and Cold War deceptions, both foreign and domestic.

ATTACKING THE BOOK

Ron Radosh, author of Red Star over Hollywood (link): 

When I criticize West in my first review and thereafter, I did not have any political agenda in mind. I was offended as a historian who is a conservative. I have devoted my public and professional life to writing history and presenting it as accurately and honestly as possible, and have tried in my own work to show how the Left's ideological views distorted all their would-be historical analysis. My own work is meant to challenge the Left's dominance in the culture, of which how we see the past is one part.

When I read Diana West's book, I was deeply offended that she could write a conspiratorial history of such calibre, and I believe that it besmirches conservatism and allows liberals and the Left to use it to paint conservatives as a bunch of nutcases. Indeed, that is exactly what they did.See Jonathan Chait's commentary in New York Magazine or Andrew Sullivan's use of it in The Dish, as an example.There are good liberals and even leftist historians; there are good conservative historians and bad ones. West is an example of the latter.

Her book hurts the conservative case in the same way as Joe McCarthy hurt anti-Communism, and allowed actual traitors and Soviet agents to depict themselves as innocent victims of McCarthyism.

David Horowitz and Ron Radosh (link):

[In response to an essay by Jeff Lipkes:] IIn making your argument, you ignore the elephant in West's room; her determination to present American strategy in WW II as a Communist conspiracy  orchestrated from Moscow to serve Stalin's ends. This is a preposterous theory. When you engage West's particular arguments with respect while you ignore her crackpot thesis which stands behind them, you are doing an immense disservice to the discussion, as well as feeding the McCarthyite fantasies of her followers.

The controversy is not at all how you represent it. In our various articles about West, we were both trying to wage a critique of an absurd conspiracy theory that has ugly overtones, that begins with various conspiratorial views she uses to explain the motives of American war planners.  I (Ron) may have indeed made some errors; no one, including me, is infallible. I acknowledge that I may have been wrong on some points and might have misread or got some details wrong. For that I apologize. But I maintain that I am right in my overall critique of her work, and West and none of her critics have convinced me otherwise.

To clean up West's work by ignoring how she pieces everything together in order to sustain a cockamanie and warped theory is not only unfair, but it is wrong and undermines your sincere effort to explain what the controversy is really about.



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