Vestigial Reds

Diana West should be a familiar name to anyone who has studied the operation of the American Communist movement. Two of her books, America Betrayed: The Secret Assault on our Nation’s Character (2013) and The Red Thread (2019) examine the influence of Communist party members and fellow travelers on American politics and civic culture, and argue that Communist subversion is alive and well in this country. While America Betrayed focuses on subversive Communist activities from the Bolshevik Revolution onward, and most controversially on Communist infiltration of the United States government before and during World War II, The Red Thread carries West’s investigations down to recent leftist efforts to undermine the Trump presidency.

West painstakingly traces the careers of John Brennan, Christopher Steele, Nellie Ohr, and other figures who have tried to overthrow Trump back to their early Communist associations. West became interested in the McCarthy era at least partly by reading M. Stanton Evans’ massive tome Blacklisted by History (2007). This controversial work elicited a vitriolic response from neoconservative historian Ronald Radosh in National Review, which made me eager to read Evans’ book. It also made me aware of the gulf that existed between the post-World War II conservative movement and what had taken its place by the early 21st century.


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