Thursday, April 29, 2010

Legacy of a False Promise

Margaret Fuchs Singer grew up in the 1940s and 50s, learning at the age of thirteen that her parents had once been Communists. The 1950s were marked by the McCarthy hearings and a time in our country's history when there was a great deal of publicity about the threat of communism and "reds." When Singer's father was called to testify and was publicly announced as a Communist, her life and childhood changed.

Researching her parents involvement in the Communist party and discovering for herself how things unfolded in the 1950s became Singer's quest as an adult. It was important for her to find out what her parents went through and to make her peace with the decisions her parents made.

Writing their story was cathartic for Singer, a part of the process of accepting her past.

Singer's story begins when she finds out her parents were a part of the Communist party. She includes photographs, newspaper headings, and transcripts from different articles within the first portion of the book. The second section gives more background - both of her parents' upbringings and where they came from, of course, affect the decisions they made in their adult life. The stress that her parents were under during Singer's early adolescence affected her ability to develop relationships with other people. Finding out that her father testified and named names of other Communists was one part of her history that was hard for Singer to accept. Yet, she was able to find some comfort in the fact that her father was an exceedingly honest man, a quality that was visible in many other aspects of his life.

I have always been fascinated by the McCarthy era, yet have not read many books set during that time period. Singer's story is interesting because it comes from the perspective of someone who was directly involved in this event in history. While Communism created a huge panic in the 1950s, the time that has elapsed since then has given us the benefit of seeing how our country has progressed. Singer's book shows us how intelligent, articulate Americans may have chosen to be a part of the Communist movement for a time.

Review copy received from Fass Publishing

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