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::: Librarian Spies (McReynolds)

It would be hard to imagine two more pathetic wannabe-spies than Philip and Mary Jane Keeney. For their openly Communist/leftist/radical activities they were fired from several jobs, investigated by the FBI, and questioned by HUAC, but never bothered with elementary spy-precautions such as not visiting known spies, not talking freely on the phone about what they were doing, and not openly bringing suspicious packages back from Eastern Europe. Despite -- or perhaps because of? -- their open and persistent radicalism, they apparently managed almost nothing in the area of passing useful secret info to Russia. Philip seemingly had some influence on the modernization of Japanese libraries and library education after World War II (see here and here, for example), but that seems to be the extent of their accomplishments.

Of more interest than their spying is the book's recounting of the spineless behavior of the ALA in their case and similar ones -- imagine an organization allegedly dedicated to freedom of speech declining to defend their members when said freedom is violated!! They ought to be ashamed of themselves. The book also draws the expected parallels between the McCarthy era's handling of its nemesis (Communism) and our era's handling of our bogeyman (terrorism). (Parenthetically, one wonders if the world would be better off without any -isms at all; some of them are positively misleading, like "catabaptism" which in fact has nothing at all to do with baptising cats.)

Anyway, I was hoping for derring-do, something Bond-like and dashing, or at least poisoned umbrellas and dead-letter drops. No such luck, therefore I give it a "Meh."

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