Cause at Heart eBook cover $9.99 on Kindle, Nook, Apple iBooks, Kobo

(cover by Susan Erony)

Cause at Heart: A Former Communist Remembers by Junius Irving Scales and Richard Nickson (foreword by Vernon Burton and James R. Barrett; foreword to the original edition by Telford Taylor; afterword by Barbara Scales; 206,000 words, 17 illustrations)

Born in 1920 in Greensboro, North Carolina, Junius Scales, whose great-uncle had been governor of the state, grew up in the privileged environment of his family’s estate. The only black people he knew were the servants. Wanting to improve the lot of workers, mainly African-American, he joined the Communist Party in 1939 while at the University of North Carolina, seeing in the Party an opportunity to right the wrongs done to blacks and poor working people.

Scales rose quickly within the Party to coordinate civil rights and labor organizing activities in several Southern states. He went underground when Party leaders were trailed and harassed by federal authorities. In 1954, FBI agents arrested Scales in Memphis for violation of the Smith Act of 1940. The only American convicted solely for being a member of the Communist Party, Scales would serve 15 months in prison before his 6-year sentence was commuted by President Kennedy in 1962.

Cause at Heart follows Scales from his privileged southern upbringing through the awakening of his social conscience, his civil- and labor-rights work for the Party across the South, his arrest and trials, his disillusionment with the Party, and his time in prison. In a new afterword, Barbara Scales, who was 10 years old when her father went to prison, recounts what it was like to be Junius Scales’ daughter.


“It is the calm, even voice of Junius Scales we hear in
Cause at Heart... this moving and memorable document... It is the voice of a decent, idealistic man who spent 18 years of his life in the Communist Party... And we don’t hear a false note: he is telling us the truth, as he reveals his illusions and delusions, his weaknesses and his strengths, his passionate belief in his party and the Soviet Union, and all the nagging doubts as well. He spares us nothing... Cause at Heart is an intelligent, rock honest... memoir, an interesting document that helps to explain in no small measure the tragic attraction the strange and hydra-headed American Communist Party held for the many decent human beings who passed through its revolving doors.” — William Herrick, The New York Times

“Scales’s political life... is beautifully described in this well written book. His scenes of prison life alone — where he won respect from his fellow inmates and jailers alike — make remarkable reading.” —
Monthly Review

“Compelling reading, especially the discussions of Scales’s arrest, trials, and prison experience, interwoven, as they are, with his reevaluation of the Party.” —
Journal of American History

“An important and often moving account of the Communist Party’s role in labor organizing and civil rights activities in the South during the 1940s... [Scales’] memoir succeeds in capturing the hope and enthusiastic dedication that motivated him and many of his compatriots... the story of one individual’s unending quest on behalf of human decency and justice.” — Patricia Sullivan,
Southern Changes

“An engrossing saga.” — Michal R. Belknap,
The Georgia Historical Quarterly

“A book of unique perception and value. It is must reading for anyone interested in the era of Joseph McCarthy.” —
Choice