Book Reviews White Collar Radicals: TVA's Knoxville Fifteen, the New Deal, and the McCarthy Era. By Aaron D. Purcell. (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2009. Pp. xxvii, 258.) During the mid-1930s, fifteen young, well-educated men and women took entry level jobs with the Tennessee Valley Authority. During their brief time with the TVA, each also maintained some relationship with the Communist Party. In White Collar Radicals, Aaron Purcell studies the lives of the "Knoxville fifteen," and demonstrates that each faced years of persecution as a result of their employment, Communist associations, and the emergent red scare of the late-1940s. From that study, he contends that their lives and persecution demonstrate the "folly of government excess," that many "forgotten Americans" were crushed under the wheels of McCarthyism, and that "Communists did exist, but were hardly an organized domestic threat to democracy" (xxvi-xxvii). Purcell uses an impressive array of archival material, oral interviews, and government documents to introduce the fifteen and piece together their lives and the events that led them to the TVA and their radical associations. This opening section, which serves as an extended introduction, is well told and coherent despite his need to address the lives of
West Virginia History: A Journal of Regional Studies – West Virginia University Press
Published: Oct 20, 2010
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