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Professor Packer has taken the trouble to write a short and immensely readable book; it deserves equal concision from a reviewer, even if he cannot match the author's urbanity and clarity of expression.
The main purpose of Professor Packer's undertaking was to assay the reliability of those who testified about a vexed problem—the extent and consequences of Communist penetration into public affairs in this country—with the special insights and disabilities of having themselves been Communists. He is not concerned with the witnesses who had been planted by the police; their insights and disabilities raise separate and ancient problems. He practically ignores the psychopaths and derelicts, like Manning Johnson and Paul Crouch, whose fabricated testimony is a lasting stain on the government agencies that sponsored it. From the regiment of putatively genuine ex-Communists a selection was necessary. Four figures commended themselves because of the importance of their stories and, as the event proved, because of the neat contrasts that evaluation of those stories permitted. Even with this limitation the records that had to be combed and analyzed ran to 200,000 pages. No wonder this book has been some time in preparation!
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