Schrecker's best known book is Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America, published in 1998. Kirkus Reviews wrote of this book, "It is no easy task bringing new life to an era already as dissected as the McCarthy era, yet this is what Schrecker accomplishes in a magnificent study of how and why McCarthyism happened and how its shadow still darkens our lives." In addition to McCarthyism, Schrecker has written on related topics such as political repression, academic freedom and Soviet espionage during the Cold War, as well as on Franco-American relations in the 1920s—the subject of her Ph.D. dissertation—and coauthoring a Chinese cookbook.
Schrecker has said that she is "a card-carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union who undertook the study of McCarthyism precisely because of my opposition to its depredations against freedom of speech," and that "in this country[,] McCarthyism did more damage to the constitution than the American Communist party ever did." Critics have argued that, in making her case, Schrecker has underplayed the undemocratic nature of the Communist Party USA. In a reply to an essay that Schrecker and Maurice Isserman wrote in The Nation in 2000, John Earl Haynes quoted the leader of the UDA, the predecessor of the politically progressive ADA, who stated that "an alliance between liberals and Communists [would] betray liberalism's bedrock democratic values." Characterizing himself as neither "left" nor "right" but anti-"tyranny", Haynes cited as evidence of Schrecker's illiberalism her statement that "cold war liberalism did not, in fact, 'get it right.'" Schrecker has been criticized by Trotskyites for being excessively concerned for the reputations of persons connected with the Stalin-supporting Communist Party USA, noting that the CPUSA supported the US government's prosecution of Trotskyites under the Smith Act and, in general, persecuted socialists who did not support Stalin's regime.
Just as charges of communist sympathies in the 1950s destroyed the careers of people who studied China, so today the Arab-Israeli conflict plagues scholars who come from or study the Middle East. Predictably, the first major academic-freedom case to arise after September 11 involved a Palestinian nationalist, the already-controversial University of South Florida professor of computer engineering Sami Al-Arian, suspended and then fired after the federal government charged him with supporting terrorism. His summary dismissal, even if the university were to revisit it in light of his recent acquittal, is a classic violation of academic freedom: It involved his off-campus political activities.
Edited by Kaplan, Craig and Schrecker, Ellen (1983). Regulating the Intellectuals: Perspectives on Academic Freedom in the 1980s. Praeger Publishers. ISBN0-275-91021-0.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
Schrecker, Ellen (1978). Hired Money: The French Debt to the United States, 1917-1929. Arno Press. ISBN0-405-11247-5.
Chiang, Jung-Feng and Schrecker, Ellen (1987) [1976, 2nd edition 1987]. Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook. Harper and Row. ISBN0-06-015828-X.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
"The Spies Who Loved Us," The Nation (May 24, 1999)
"Left, Right, and Labor," Working USA (Jan-Feb 2000)
"Free Speech on Campus: Academic Freedom and the Corporations," in Thomas R. Hensley, ed., The Boundaries of Freedom of Expression and Order in American Democracy, Kent State University Press, spring 2001
"Immigration and Internal Security: Political Deportations during the McCarthy Era," Science & Society 60 (4) Winter 1996-1997
"Before the Rosenbergs: Espionage Scenarios in the Early Cold War" in Marjorie Garber and Rebecca Walkowitz, ed., Secret Agents: The Rosenberg Case and the McCarthy Era, Routledge (1995)
"McCarthyism and the Communist Party," in Michael Brown et al. eds., New Studies in the Politics and Culture of U.S. Communism, Monthly Review Press, New York, 1993; reprinted in Andre Kaenel, ed., Anti-Communism and McCarthyism in the United States, Editions Messene, Paris, 1995