Theoharis, Athan G(eorge) 1936-
THEOHARIS, Athan G(eorge) 1936-
PERSONAL: Born August 3, 1936, in Milwaukee, WI; son of George A. and Adeline (Konop) Theoharis; married Nancy Artinian, August 21, 1966; children: Jeanne Frances, George Thomas, Elizabeth Armen. Ethnicity: "Greek." Education: University of Chicago, A.B., 1956, A.B., 1957, A.M., 1959, Ph.D., 1965. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Greek Orthodox. Hobbies and other interests: Sports.
ADDRESSES: Office—Department of History, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881.
CAREER: Texas A & M University, College Station, instructor in history, 1962-64; Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, assistant professor of history, 1964-68; Staten Island Community College of the City University of New York, Staten Island, NY, associate professor of history, 1968-69; Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI, associate professor, 1969-76, professor of American history, 1976—. Thomas B. Lockwood Professor of History at State University of New York at Buffalo, 1982-83.
MEMBER: American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, Academy of Political Science, American Civil Liberties Union, National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (member of board, 1966), University of Chicago Alumni (member of board, 1968-70).
AWARDS, HONORS: Grants from Truman Institute for National and International Affairs, 1965, 1966, Wayne State University, 1967, Marquette University, 1970, 1979, Institute for Humane Studies, 1971, Field Foundation, 1980, Warsh-Mott Funds, 1980, Fund for Investigative Journalism, 1980, and the C. S. Fund, 1981; American Bar Association Gavel Awards; National Endowment for the Humanities summer fellowship, 1976; Binkley-Stephenson Award, 1979; Albert Beveridge research grant, 1980; Lawrence G. Haggerty Faculty Award for Research Excellence, 2002; Wisconsin Academy of Arts, Science and Literature, fellow, 2003.
Anatomy of Anti-Communism, Hill & Wang (New York, NY), 1969.
The Yalta Myths: An Issue in U.S. Politics, 1945-1955, University of Missouri Press (Columbia, MO), 1970.
Seeds of Repression: Harry S. Truman and the Origins of McCarthyism, Quadrangle (Chicago, IL), 1971.
(Editor, with Robert Griffith) The Specter: Original Essays on the Cold War and the Origins of Mc-Carthyism, New Viewpoints (New York, NY), 1974.
Spying on Americans: Political Surveillance from Hoover to the Huston Plan, Temple University Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1978.
(Editor) The Truman Presidency: The Origins of the Imperial Presidency and the National Security State, Earl M. Coleman (Crugers, NY), 1979.
(With Melvyn Dubofsky) Imperial Democracy: The United States since 1945, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1982.
(Editor) Beyond the Hiss Case: The FBI, Congress, and the Cold War, Temple University Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1982.
(With John Stuart Cox) The Boss: J. Edgar Hoover and the Great American Inquisition, Temple University Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1988.
(Editor) From the Secret Files of J. Edgar Hoover, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 1992.
(Editor) The FBI: An Annotated Bibliography and research Guide, Garland Publishing (New York, NY), 1994.
J. Edgar Hoover, Sex, and Crime: An Historical Antidote, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 1995.
(Editor) A Culture of Secrecy: The Government versus the People's Right to Know, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 1998.
(Author and editor, with others) The FBI: A Comprehensive Reference Guide, Oryx Press (Phoenix, AZ), 1999.
Chasing Spies: How the FBI Failed in Counterintelligence but Promoted the Politics of McCarthyism in the Cold War Years, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 2002.
Those Yet to Be United States, Thomson/Wadsworth (Boston, MA), 2002.
Contributor to numerous books, including Politics and Policies of the Truman Administration, Quadrangle (Chicago, IL), 1970; Public Opinion and Historians, Wayne State University Press (Detroit, MI), 1970; Men, Women, and Issues in American History, edited by Howard H. Quint and Milton Cantor, Dorsey (Homewood, IL), 1975; Privacy: A Vanishing Value, Fordham University Press (New York, NY), 1980; Government Agencies, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1983; Freedom at Risk, Temple University Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1988; Encyclopedia of the American Legislative System, Scribner (New York, NY), 1994; and Political Policing, Berghahn (London, England), 1996.
Contributor to periodicals, including Nation and Journal of American History. History editor, USA Today; associate editor, American National Biography, for Oxford University Press. Compiled and edited files of FBI internal security cases and federal surveillance policy, on microfilm from University Publications of America.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Research on internal security policy, 1939-56.
SIDELIGHTS: Athan G. Theoharis's The Yalta Myths: An Issue in U.S. Politics, 1945-1955 explores the history of the Cold War policies that developed from the theory that Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill compromised the West in their dealings with Stalin at the Yalta Conference in 1945. "Although the Republicans raised the issue primarily to discredit Truman," Allen Weinstein observed in the New York Times Book Review, "Theoharis considers the President almost as culpable as his Congressional opponents in perpetuating 'the Yalta myths.'"
Theoharis examines the domestic effects of Truman's policies in Seeds of Repression: Harry S. Truman and the Origins of McCarthyism. In that report, said New York Review of Books critic Murray Kempton, "Our desire to have the period's characters rendered in their proper proportions could hardly be better satisfied. McCarthy is relegated in this composition to the place and comparative dimensions of one of Veronese's dwarfs, since it is Mr. Theoharis's judgment that Mr. Truman set the tone of the national possession by fear of the Communist danger and that McCarthyism was only Trumanism carried to its logical conclusion." Kempton concludes that Theoharis's "argument is not without weaknesses; but none of them seriously affects its essential strength. He has successfully, if not always gracefully, closed the question of major blame."
In A Culture of Secrecy: The Government versus the People's Right to Know, Theoharis edits a collection of essays concerning what Ray Jenkins of Journal of Interdisciplinary History called a "government obsession with secret keeping in all its multifarious and perfidious forms." The book reveals that the U.S. government is hiding information, how they're hiding it, and why it matters to the populace. Information-keeping in presidential administrations from Nixon to Clinton is also examined; other chapters touch on the hidden details of the John F. Kennedy assassination, the Nixon tapes, the FBI's files on John Lennon, and other wellknown issues.
As the book's contributors emphasize, federal agencies actively "block researchers from examining crucial aspects of our nation's past," wrote Justus Doenecke in Pacific Historical Review, "often setting up hindrances when genuine national security is no longer at stake." The essays, noted Jenkins, "paint a depressing picture of a government winning the Orwellian war to keep its people in a permanent state of ignorance," though he also found the final chapter, "reassuring." That chapter, written by Anna Kasten Nelson, one of five members of the ad-hoc Kennedy Assassination review Board, recalled the staggering bureaucracy that conspired to keep the panel members from gaining information about the killing of the president. However, the Review Board still released its report, which took the form of "a devastating indictment of official secret keeping," in Jenkins's words. As for the style in A Culture of Secrecy, Doenecke found some of the prose "wooden" yet concluded that the book is "damning, a severe indictment of bureaucratic stonewalling that inhibits serious efforts to get the truth of America's past."
Theoharis once told CA: "Since 1976, my research has focused on the FBI, tracing the growth in role and power of the federal intelligence agency and its impact on domestic policies and civil liberties. This interest was kindled by recent availability of FBI records, obtainable under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Such research, however, is limited by time required to obtain FBI records using the FOIA and the heavily redacted nature of the released records." Among the volumes focusing on the FBI is Theoharis's Chasing Spies: How the FBI Failed in Counterintelligence but Promoted the Politics of Mc-Carthyism in the Cold War Years. The author argues that for decades the federal agency conducted illegal investigations that promoted their anti-Communist agenda. Potential "enemies of the state," including Hollywood actors and Martin Luther King, Jr., were subjected to wiretapping, surveillance and other forms of harassment.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Libraries, May, 1999, review of The FBI: A Comprehensive Reference Guide, p. 69.
American Political Science Review, spring, 1976.
Booklist, February 15, 1999, review of The FBI, p. 1090.
Book Report, September, 1999, review of The FBI, p. 81.
Choice, October, 1998, review of A Culture of Secrecy: The Government versus the People's Right to Know, p. 398; September, 1999, review of The FBI, p. 118.
Journal of Government Information, September, 1999, review of The FBI, p. 577.
Journal of Interdisciplinary History, winter, 1999, Ray Jenkins, review of A Culture of Secrecy, p. 549.
Journal of Social History, spring, 2001, review of From the Secret Files of J. Edgar Hoover and The Boss: J. Edgar Hoover and the Great American Inquisition, p. 703.
Library Journal, April 15, 1998, William Pederson, review of A Culture of Secrecy, p. 100; December, 1998, Patrick Petit, review of The FBI, p. 90.
New York Review of Books, March 11, 1971; September 2, 1971.
New York Times Book Review, March 7, 1971, Allen Weinstein, review of The Yalta Myths: An Issue in U.S. Politics, 1945-1955.
Pacific Historical Review, May, 1999, Justus Doenecke, review of A Culture of Secrecy, p. 353.
Reference and User Services Quarterly, spring, 1999, review of The FBI, p. 304.