Why did the FBI spy on Ray Bradbury? Hint: It had to do with WWIII

Contributed by
Dec 17, 2012

We know Ray Bradbury best as the good-natured grand master of science fiction who brought joy to millions with his stories for decades. But in the 1960s, accusations that he was a Communist sympathizer led to an investigation by the FBI. So what did the feds find?

Freedom of Information Act requests to see the FBI file on Bradbury reveal that his resume, background information and what the feds dubbed "subversive information" were all examined, including the possibility that he once traveled to Cuba to take part in a political summit there. The bureau even spied on his home in California. But why go through all this trouble for a science fiction writer?

Apparently the government was tipped off that Bradbury might be a Communist by a screenwriter named Martin Berkeley, who had a budding career writing film noir and western pictures before he was asked to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in the mid-'50s. Berkeley at first claimed he knew nothing, but then named more than 150 people as Communists or Communist sympathizers in Hollywood. He later told the FBI that he believed Bradbury was "probably sympathetic with certain pro-Communist elements" in the Screen Writers Guild of America, and even claimed that science fiction writers as a whole were dangerous to America.

"Informant stated that the general aim of these science fiction writers is to frighten the people into a state of paralysis or psychological incompetence bordering on hysteria which would make it very possible to conduct a Third World War in which the American people would seriously believe [sic] could not be won since their morale had been seriously destroyed," an FBI report said.

Bradbury's vocal opposition to HUAC, along with Berkeley's claims, led to the investigation. He was, of course, eventually cleared, in part because he once publicly explained that his Fahrenheit 451 precursor story "The Fireman" was banned in Russia because that country believed he was aiming his social criticism directly at them.

So Bradbury escaped the Hollywood blacklist and kept right on telling stories. That worked out great for everyone, but you have to wonder how much cash the government wasted trying to find out if he was preparing to start World War III.

(Via Huffington Post)