This book tells the story of an academic department that underwent rapid, wrenching changes at a time and in a place that one would not have expected them to have occurred. The time was the late 1960s through the 1970s and the place was a public university heavily dependent on state funding. The Cold War was raging, the US public was fearful of communism and the Soviet Union, and politicians were speaking to these fears for political ends. The economics department at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst was in turmoil. In this environment a significant proportion of the department's visible faculty of traditional economists was rapidly created and in spite of the anti-Marxist political climate and the dependence of the university on state politicians for funding, was quickly replaced by a significant visible group of Marxian economists. This book covers the particulars of the background for these events relating to the University of Massachusetts, the political activism of the period, and the state of the economics profession.
It describes the events themselves in considerable detail, the multi-year turmoil within the economics department associated with them, the eventual resolution of that turmoil into an intellectually exciting and friendly atmosphere, the significance of the events in terms of academic endeavor, and their legacy for the economics profession.