The Age of McCarthyism, by Ellen Schrecker, discusses the Cold War policies to find American Communists and examines the rather complex nature of the fear and subsequent action towards Communism and espionage as it becomes "McCarthyism". Ellen Schrecker discusses the political history in the early stages of McCarthyism as it relates to a partisan struggle for power in the United States government. She examines how New Deal attacks develop into an attack on the Communists who ran some of the programs and the Congress of Industrial Organizations. Eventually, this attack breaks from the New Deal, but not before it develops a supportive structure of agencies that legitimize their power and procedures to investigate and prosecute Communists. This essay also discusses the involvement of the private sector by such supportive "anti-Communist" measures as black listing and the corporation's willingness to fire those people involved in the government's procedures.
In the essay, Ellen Schrecker wishes to show that McCarthyism is not a development of one event; rather, it was a culmination of the fear of communism, a lust for power, and world political developments that were seen through government propaganda. Ellen examines the institutions of the New Deal, the FBI and examines the courts and how each of them effected the development of McCarthyism. For example, establishing a link between Roosevelt's support of the communist run and the critic's attack on the New Deal shows how the critic's wish to weaken the position of the president by flaunting his "Un-American" affiliations. The FBI was a constant force during McCarthyism. When the FBI took over the role of the Civil Service Commission to handle most of the Loyalty-Security Program's investigations, the author explains the importance of such a move. One, the FBI's ideology will be used in pursuing the communists, and also, they would not need to disclose to other organizations how they acquired this information.