As the cold war began in the late 1940s, dividing the world between communism and democracy, the fear of a Red threat within the United States intensified. Exploiting the public anxieties, Joseph R. McCarthy, a little-known senator from Wisconsin, launched his anti-communist crusade in 1950, relying less on facts than on rumor and innuendo to make his charges. Past membership in the Communist Party, friendship with suspected radicals, or buying a leftist newspaper was enough for a person to be blacklisted, fired from their job, arrested, or even deported. Federal employees, Hollywood actors, public schoolteachers, scientists, and many others were ensnared by the Red Scare. Though the Soviet Union did present a real threat and some American Communists did try to aid the Soviets through spying, McCarthy's disregard for the truth, bullying of witnesses, and trampling of Constitutional rights helped create one of the darkest, most controversial periods in American history. The McCarthy Era examines the influences, events, and repercussions of the period, giving readers a vivid sense of this time in American history.