Was the communist witch hunt unleashed by Senator Joe McCarthy an aberration, or has red scare politics been an intrinsic part of American political life since the 1930s? Was McCarthyism a populist or an elitist phenomenon? Was Senator McCarthy virtually irrelevant to the phenomenon? This book shows that some of the contending interpretations of McCarthyism are mutually compatible and reveals the importance of pressures usually overlooked. Professor Heale's deeply-probing study of Joe McCarthy's 'hinterland' in the American states, demonstrates that what is usually called McCarthyism was part of a political cycle, that emerged in the 1930s and took two decades to run its course.