“Phantom Spies, Phantom Justice” is a perfect book written by Miriam Ruth Moskowitz. It was published by the Justice Institute in 2012 in Seattle, WA. It consists of 304 pages, describing phantom spies chasing the author whenever she went by car, by subway, or on foot, and making no efforts to be invisible as if they were deliberately trying to unhinge her. I (Learner’s Name) have chosen this book for review because it is an essential well-documented first-hand report that contributes and corrects the McCarthy era’s historical records. The story by Miriam, telling how she became an “incidental damage” in the authorities’ pursuit of true and fake spies, should be read by all who cherish the U.S. government’s constitutional form. Moskowitz’s personal triumph and survival have to be celebrated by all Americans. The thesis of the book is the clarification of a law court prejudice of the McCarthy era. Moskowitz tries to show the truth about judicature, shedding light on this.
“Phantom Spies, Phantom Justice” is a ninety-six-year old Miriam’s intense indictment against a prosecution (headed by H. Saypol), judge R. Kaufman more concentrated on career progression than the truth, and a reptile press more intent on making headlines as sensational as unfaithful. Miriam spares no punches, showing how the accusation team consciously used lying witnesses and violated judicial ethics to make a frame-up of the conspiracy to impede justice. Her judge, witnesses, and prosecutors were the same persons who would convict, preside, and testify against Ethel and Julius Rosenberg in the court four months later. As a matter of fact, the accusation regarded the author’s trial as a dress rehearsal for a now fabulous case, and Moskowitz tested the extent to which popular preconceptions swayed the jury.
Moskowitz indicates of the last days before her arrest, “They had followed me for days” (Moskowitz, 2012, p. 48). Wherever she went, on foot, by subway, or by car, they made no efforts to be stealthy as if they were intentionally trying to disarrange her. They were FBI agents, and Miriam knew who they were because she had met their counterparts when they interrogated her weeks earlier. Their presence was ominous but she did not know why they were stalking her. She had a numbing fear that they were on a mission of ambushing, and she was their prey.
“Phantom Spies, Phantom Justice” is not just an account of a historic trial, it is a memoir of Moskowitz’s pariahdom, her fellow prisoners (including Ethel Rosenberg and Iva d’Aquino known as “Tokyo Rose”), and of a young woman reestablishing a life. In painstaking details, Moskowitz follows the careers of her tormenters and their downward spiral. Her story is a significant part of the history of the McCarthy period, which has been recognized by the New Yorker and the Justice Institute as a truly extraordinary piece of history (Mead, 2010). The revised edition of the book features two new chapters and updated information about the case.
Insightful and stirring, the story presents an insider’s comprehension of the McCarthy era and what McCarthy did to people in his search for American betrayers. Although one may have heard about some of the trials, this story was the first gleam representing the real situation at those times. Moskowitz magnificently described the McCarthy era in her story. Thereby she unambiguously achieved the purpose, namely, the clarification of a law court prejudice. From the first day of her imprisonment to the last page of the book, she gives a reader a clear understanding of the venal practices of that period.
Moskowitz was so honest and open in the story like a breath of fresh air, regarding a great deal of information that was shared. Besides, the book gives open access to the era and the events during and after the court procedure and the frame-up case of Moskowitz. If one is interested in history or in the McCarthyism era particularly, this story will provide him or her with a different look at the real situation during that period.
The book is really unique and valuable as it supports the common though that all people need to feel valued, trusted, and secure, and Miriam had that need to overcome the public perception that she was evil. Miriam drew on what had already been part of her life; she read, learned, and participated. She marched in peaceful demonstrations for civil rights and women’s rights, and she showed in front of the United Nations to disable the bomb. Moreover, Miriam learned the facts behind the provocative material she was reading to be conscientiously informed. She always tried to be a constructive member of society and was determined to have a life in spite of everything. Perhaps, that determination was what propelled her. Miriam should acknowledge that she had a few friends, one at the beginning, and one who helped later exceedingly. In addition, she was also phenomenally lucky; if her parents had not stood by her she would not have had a possibility to turn this around at all. There is no moral to this story. One has to be lucky. She certainly was.
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The book sheds light on the period when McCarthy started with lists of communists in the government and published them. As a result, they spread to other groups, and hundreds of lives were ruined. One must remember that the Communist Party was legal, and many, perhaps most of those accused of being communists, were not such; their accusers were often faceless and sometimes made a living through being informers. However, there was then an implicit sense that opposition to the government was unpatriotic, and denial was suspected. The public believed McCarthy, and that was the tragedy of McCarthyism.
“Phantom Spies, Phantom Justice” enables readers to compare the time of McCarthy and that of the Bush presidency. The administration of Bush did things in another way, but they used September 9/11 to badmouth Muslims. The lawmaking of McCarthy in the fifties and the one as a result of the attack were connected with military adventures, but the key difference is that there has been no prevalent attack on the Constitution before. Nowadays, Americans have secret courts, withholding some charges. The right to board and the right to judge’s order does not exist for a particular class of respondents. It is new and scaring, but it is supported mainly by an executive edict. Moreover, the worst promulgation is a result of a politically ignorant public and anti-Moslem eagerness in the country now.
The lesson the author hopes to leave to a reader is that one needs to guard his precious citizenship by knowing how such events are shaping his or her life. The reader should be aware of and make his or her voice heard when something is wrong.
Some articles published by the United Nations have relevance to the experiences of Ms. Moskowitz. For example, in the second cornerstone of the Declaration, Article 22, and Articles 23 to 27, social, cultural, and economic rights, to which every person is entitled “as a member of society”, are set out. The articles describe these rights as necessary for man dignity and the free development of individuality and show that they are to be realized “through national efforts and international cooperation” (United Nations, n.d.). Besides, realization limitations depend upon the resources of the international community and each state. The final Articles 28 to 30 recognize that every person is entitled to a social and international statute, according to which all human rights and basic freedoms are to be realized and emphasize the responsibilities and duties which each person owes to his or her community (United Nations, n.d.).
In conclusion, a particular strength of the book is the inspiration that it gives the reader. It is the most unique and valuable thing that readers can get from this story. Reading Mariam’s story, one can realize that he or she really deserves for something better, for a better life, because Moskowitz shows a great example of human rights stated in Articles of the Universal Declaration by the United Nations (n.d.). Moreover, the author has achieved her purpose since the book opens the reader’s eyes in regard to the truth of jurisprudence, and this is the reason why it is highly recommended to those who want to see a real situation. Thus, many can understand that it is right to consider judicature as the biggest criminal in the world.
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