A Threat of the First Magnitude

1M Front

Sometime in the late fall/early winter of 1962, a document began circulating among members of the Communist Party USA based in the Chicago area, titled “Whither the Party of Lenin.” It was signed “The Ad Hoc Committee for Scientific Socialist Line.” This was not the work of factionally inclined CP comrades, but rather something springing from the counter-intelligence imagination of the FBI.


The untold story of the FBI informants who penetrated the upper reaches of organizations such as the Communist Party, USA, the Black Panther Party, the Revolutionary Union and other groups labeled threats to the internal security of the United States.

3 Morris Childs

Morris Childs, Communist Party Member, confidant of Gus Hall, Nikita Khruschev, Leonid Brezhnev and FBI Informant

A Threat of the First Magnitude tells the story of the FBI’s fake Maoist organization and the informants they used to penetrate the highest levels of the Communist Party USA, the Black Panther Party, the Revolutionary Union and other groups labelled threats to the internal security of the United States in the 1960s and 1970s.

As once again the FBI is thrust into the spotlight of US politics, A Threat of a First Magnitude offers a view of the historic inner-workings of the Bureau’s counterintelligence operations — from generating “fake news” and the utilization of “sensitive intelligence methods” to the handling of “reliable sources” — that matches or exceeds the sophistication of any contenders.

7 Larry & Betty Goff

Lawrence L. Goff, a 30-year-old California gunsmith, holds an M-1 rifle during his testimony before the House Internal Security Committee in Washington, Oct. 21, 1971. Goff and his wife, Betty Sue, right, said they had been undercover informants for the FBI. The couple told the Committee that pro-Maoist militants organized the violent San Jose demonstration against President Nixon last year. (AP Photo/Charles Gorry)

A Threat of the First Magnitude will be published in January 2018. Pre-orders are available at Amazon UK / Hive / Amazon US / Barnes & Noble / Indiebound.

On sale: January 2018
Paperback ISBN: 9781910924709 ($14.95 US // $16.95 CAN)
eBook ISBN: 9781910924723 ($9.99 US &CAN)


Praise for  A Threat of the First Magnitude

Aaron Leonard and Conor Gallagher's text reveals in graphic detail the extent that activists and citizens in the leftist movements of the Sixties and Seventies were manipulated by the FBI via informants they believed to be trusted friends.  More importantly, it reveals how little the FBI cares about the individuals whose lives they ruin in the name of  national security. A Threat of the First Magnitude is a riveting story of FBI lies and deceit. It is a fascinating history that is also a prescient warning.  After reading this book, I can't help but wonder how things might have turned out if the government's informants had never been members of the groups they helped destroy. — Ron Jacobs, author of The Way the Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground and Daydream Sunset: The 60s Counterculture in the 70s.  

9 Don Wright and Bob Avakian in China

We already knew the FBI spied on "political subversives.” Now Leonard and Gallagher turn a welcome spotlight on the informants who infiltrated deeply — and likely illegally — into radical political groups.  — Scott Martelle, author of Blood Passion: The Ludlow Massacre and Class War in the American West and The Fear Within: Spies, Commies and American Democracy on Trial.