Phantom Spies, Phantom Justice

How I Survived McCarthyism


Rehearsal for the Rosenberg Trial

The Cast of Characters

  • Elizabeth T. Bentley
  • Harry Gold
  • Roy M. Cohn
  • Irving H. Saypol
  • Judge Irving R. Kaufman
  • J. Edgar Hoover

Introduction from Miriam Moskowitz:

“On a sleepy summer afternoon in July, 1950, in a sleepy coastal New Jersey town, the FBI, in its best imitation of ’50s popular TV shows, swooped down on me and Abraham Brothman, arrested us and threw us in jail.

I was Brothman’s secretary and friend. The charge against us was “conspiracy to obstruct justice.” I had no idea what that meant or what the government thought I had done but I knew it portended trouble for the charge had overtones of Soviet espionage and in the McCarthyite political atmosphere such hints of wrongdoing, true or not, would be disastrous.

FBI apprehending Miriam, July 1950

In its details, the government accused Brothman, my co-defendant, of having influenced a key witness to lie to the grand jury which was then investigating Soviet espionage, and, it said, I had known of it. That key witness was a chemist from Philadelphia who had shaken up the world only months earlier with a startling confession that he had been America’s No. 1 spy although he made no accusations that we had participated in his wrongdoing… His name was Harry Gold.

From then on my life seemed to be on a roller coaster going downhill. We were tried in November, 1950. Gold, who had not yet been sentenced and faced a death penalty, was the prosecution’s most compliant witness in detailing how Brothman and I were complicit in the charges the government leveled against us. In an atmosphere of unprecedented political hysteria and grossly misleading testimony we were convicted and sentenced to two years in prison. My book, “Phantom Spies, Phantom Justice” details how the events unfolded, how I spent my time in jail and then in prison, and my life afterwards. It is a personal account of mid-nineteenth century America and the cataclysmic effect of the political perversion McCarthyism represented.

As one reviewer noted, it is also a book that should be required reading for students of government and history, and for reading about the lives of people who find the inner strength to carry on against insurmountable odds.

Watch a short video interview of Miriam

What readers are saying:

“…a great lesson of what can happen when fanatics and demagogues conspire to prey on the innocent for their own purposes.”

“An important book written in compassionate and sensible style—a difficult accomplishment even decades after the events for a victim of lies, injustice and imprisonment.”


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