Friday, 17 July 2009


My obituary of Walter Schneir, who along with his wife Miriam wrote the first important book about the Rosenberg trial, is in the Guardian today, you can link to it here. The Town Hall debate, to which I refer, was a major landmark in what has become a continuing Reaganization of America, a retroactive process by which the McCarthy era could be justified, celebrated, and, as we have seen through the Bush regime,fianlly reborn and institutionalised, to the point where the Obama administration seems keen not to dismantle it.

The Verona decrypts and various other revelations from the Soviet archives require very careful handling, and Schneir was very good about pointing out their limitations, and the abuses to which they were put, while at the same time being honest about the fact that Julius Rosenberg was, indeed, a spy. Whether he deserved the death penalty is another debate.

I also wanted to make a bigger point about the Stronium 90 case, which was absolutely huge in the 1950s: nuclear poisoning of the baby boom children. It was one of the first of the big 'green' stories.

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