History 17B

West Valley College


Welcome to your paper assignment!!!

The history of the Cold War is a stark reminder of how Americans have often struggled to find a balance between maintaining in a liberal democracy and protecting it from forces that seek to subvert it (indeed, we are having this same debate today over how to fight the war on terrorism!)  As Ellen Schrecker explains in The Age of McCarthyism Second Edition, many Americans were persecuted during this Cold War period because they held unpopular beliefs. While some may certainly have been intent on subverting American democracy, many others were not.


Your assignment is to compare and contrast two of the arguments presented in Schrecker's book:  J. Edgar Hoover's testimony to Congress (Document 4) and Sidney Hook's "Cold War Liberal View of the Communist Threat" (Document 21).  Based on your readings of Schrecker, you must critically evaluate what these authors are saying.  For instance, is Hoover exaggerating the threat?  In what aspect does Hook disagree with Hoover in regards to conspiracy vs. heresy (i.e., what's the distinction that Hook makes and why does he feel Hoover is in error?)  What criticism can you offer of BOTH of these authors?  You must take a position at the END of the paper, either choosing one of the authors or rejecting both (and explaining why).

This assignment is not just asking you to summarize two arguments.  You must draw out specific points where these authors differ in their arguments (and both authors DO differ over the level of threat communism posed, and how to deal with that threat.)  You must also bring in examples (with page number cites) from throughout the book, not just the two authors.

It is imperative that you have the SECOND EDITION.  You cannot do the assignment with the third edition.

Compare and Contrast Checklist:

Length and Format

Your essay should be:

Don't fill the heading of your first page with a lot of unnecessary junk.  The only four things you need to put (single spaced) are your name, your section number, the date, and the title of the paper.  (Anything more than that will be deleted when I grade your paper.)

Content Format:  How to Write This Paper

Over the years I have noticed two problems that students have in writing this paper.  First, a student writes a paper that has an intro, summarizes each author, and then has a conclusion.  These papers do not pass because they do not fulfill the assignment of comparing and contrasting the arguments.  Problem number two is when a student summarizes each author separately, draws out some similarities and differences in a separate paragraph or two, and then concludes.  These papers have the potential to pass, but not with a grade higher than a C because of the repetition in their analysis; that is, after summarizing each author separately, the student repeats the arguments again when comparing and contrasting.  

So here is your required format:  DO NOT summarize the authors separately from a compare and contrast analysis.  Instead, organize your paper thematically in a point-counterpoint format.  Determine what are the main points that the authors are arguing over and explain how (or even whether) they differ.  For instance, both Hoover and Hook see the Communist Party as a threat (conspiracy), but they disagree over whether "communism" (a set of beliefs) is a threat.  This is the crux of Hook's argument (conspiracy vs. heresy) and the basis of his criticism against Hoover.  Look for other issues that they both discuss (i.e., Lenin's writings), and organize you paper into these issues in which you explain how each author differs.  In this way, you are drawing out specific points from their debate, laying them side by side, and showing their contrasting positions.

For the INTRODUCTION, don't forget that the specific assignment is to compare and contrast these authors.  This requires you to bring the names and articles of these authors into your introduction.

Using Quotes and Plagiarism

I DO want you to use lots of examples from Schrecker and the documents [AND CITE THOSE EXAMPLES WITH A PAGE NUMBER in parentheses like this:  (p#)], but I DO NOT want you to use any quotes!!!  All examples should be substantially paraphrased in your own words.  And don't take anything from Wikipedia or other online resources (and I will find out).  If you are just lifting sentences out of these documents (or any online resources) without paraphrasing them, you will receive an "F" on your paper for plagiarism, and possibly an "F" in the class for gross infractions of this rule.   Don't test me on this.  EVERY semester I fail one or more students for plagiarism (no lie!)  DON'T BE ONE OF THEM!!!

PROOFREAD and "spell check" your work as spelling and grammatical errors will affect the overall presentation of your essay - and thus your overall grade.  A paper that is filled with grammatical, punctuation, and/or spelling errors will NOT pass.

Submitting Your Paper:  Attach your paper as a MS-Word document and e-mail it to either my Canvas account or the history17b_wvc@yahoo.com account.  ALSO, paste your paper into the body of the e-mail message as a back up measure (sometimes Word docs don't open if they are old versions).

Due Date:  Saturday, October 28 by 11:59 pm.

Late policy:  Papers are marked down 1/3 of a grade each day that they are late.  Late papers are defined as those which reach me after 11:59 on the date they are due.

Points:  250 points