The Red Corner
The Rise and Fall of Communism in Northeastern Montana
Verlaine Stoner McDonald
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The Red Corner chronicles the meteoric rise and decline of Communism on the prairies of northeastern Montana. During the 1920s and early 1930s, Sheridan County boasted a government largely run by Communists, a Communist camp for local youth, and an official newspaper of the Communist Party USA—the Producers News. By the mid-1930s, however, Communist influence in the region had waned, and area residents soon came to regard the county’s embrace of Communism as a shameful period in its history.
Through meticulous research in newspaper accounts, oral histories, FBI reports, and internal Communist Party files, author Verlaine Stoner McDonald reveals the colorful stories of such influential local Communists as newspaper editor and state senator Charles E. “Red Flag” Taylor and his comrade, county sheriff Rodney Salisbury, who was allegedly involved in graft, prostitution, and bootlegging. In so doing, she offers insights into how this remote part of the West came to be home to one of the nation’s most successful rural Communist organizations and how it eventually rejected radicalism and reconstituted itself as a typical farming community.
Verlaine Stoner McDonald is a professor in the Department of English, Theatre, and Speech Communication at Berea College. She grew up on the Sheridan County farm homesteaded by her great-grandparents and now lives in Berea, Kentucky, with her family.