From its foundation in 1919, the American Communist party exerted a remarkable influence on American life for a small, often despised, and sometimes persecuted group. Whether the party was seen as a progressive vanguard, a group of misguided idealists, or a serious threat to the nation's security, the party has attracted more attention from politicians, scholars, and ordinary citizens than its size or political success would seem to warrant. More than just a political party or program, American communism was for many of its adherents an all embracing way of life. It provided them with a clear explanation of the human condition, a presription for building a better world, a circle of friends and associates who shared ideals and experiences, and a number of institutions such as summer camps and labor unions which provided a sense of solidarity and affirmation. In The American Communist Movement: Storming Heaven Itself, Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes trace the turbulent history of American communism as both political party and social movement. Drawing on a wealth of research, they follow the party's fortunes from its origin in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, through its heyday during the Depression years, to the gradual decline in the post-World War II era. The authors examine the effect of the party's ideas on groups more in the mainstream of American politics, as well as the influence of communist "popular front" culture on American culture in general. While duly acknowledging the idealism of many American communists, the authors also take a clear-eyed look at the disturbing aspects of the American communist movement: its subservience to Moscow, its penchant for conspiratorial machinations, its bitter internal disputes and purges, its always latent and sometimes virulent totalitarianism. The first book of its kind since 1957, The American Communist Movement provides a comprehensive, critical history of this important twentieth-century political movement.