"Moving and memorable . . . It is the voice of a decent, idealistic man who spent eighteen years of his life in the Communist Party doing everything up to serving as district organizer for several Southern states, including North Carolina. And we don't hear a false note: he is telling us the truth, as he reveals his illusions and delusions, his weaknesses and his strengths, his passionate belief in his party and the Soviet Union, and all the nagging doubts as well. He spares us nothing. . . . An interesting document that helps to explain in no small measure the tragic attraction the strange and hydra-headed American Communist Party held for the many decent human beings who passed through its revolving doors."
—William Herrick, New York Times Book Review
Cause at Heart follows Scales from his privileged southern upbringing through the awakening of his social conscience, his civil- and labor- rights work for the Party across the South, his arrest and trials, his disillusionment with the Party, and his time in prison. Even behind bars Scales refused to cooperate with his prosecutors, to “name names.” In their foreword, Vernon Burton and James Barrett draw chilling parallels between the Smith Act, the legal grounds on which Scales was convicted, and contemporary restrictions on individual rights such as the Patriot Act. Today, as it did sixty-plus years ago, “Congress has radically expanded the description of what constitutes a threat to the U.S. government.”
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