Synopses & Reviews
For five long years in the 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy and his anti-Communist crusade dominated the American scene, terrified politicians, and destroyed the lives of thousands of our citizens. In this masterful history, Haynes Johnson re-creates that time of crisis-of President Eisenhower, who hated McCarthy but would not attack him; of the Republican senators who cynically used McCarthy to win their own elections; of Edward R. Murrow, whose courageous TV broadcast began McCarthy's downfall; and of mild-mannered lawyer Joseph Welch, who finally shamed McCarthy into silence.
Johnson tells this monumental story through the lens of its relevance to our own time, when fear again affects American behavior and attitudes, for he believes now, as then, that our civil liberties, our Constitution, and our nation are at stake as we confront the ever more difficult task of balancing the need for national security with that of personal liberty.
Compelling narrative history, insightful political commentary, and intimate personal remembrance combine to make The Age of Anxiety a vitally important book for our time.
Extremism-and the suspicion and hatred it engenders-may be Joe McCarthy's most lasting legacy . . . For these and other reasons, while McCarthy and the leading players of his time- Truman and Acheson, Eisenhower and Nixon, the Kennedy brothers and LBJ, Cohn and Schine, Stalin and Mao-have long since passed from the scene, McCarthyism remains a story without an end. -f rom the book.
"Pulitzer-winning journalist Johnson (The Best of Times) offers an engrossing account of the career of red-baiting demagogue Joseph McCarthy and a chilling description of his legacy for today. The focus is on the disturbing questions raised by McCarthyism: how could a little-known freshman senator, driven by Cold War paranoia, quickly amass the power to intimidate senior colleagues, bully the media, terrorize innocent citizens and even threaten two respected presidents? Why did fellow Republicans not reject his sleazy, dishonest tactics when they were personally revolted by them? Most urgently, are we seeing the birth of a new 'age of anxiety,' in which terrorism replaces communism as the bogeyman? Johnson's answer is clearly yes. He traces the current climate in Washington directly to the 1950s: 'McCarthyism was a major factor in the rise of the radical Right and the polarization that plagues American life, pitting group against group and region against region, sowing cynicism and distrust, and manipulating public opinion through fear and smear.' He reviews recent events, including the use of the Patriot Act to stifle dissent, the abuse and detention of thousands of American Muslims guilty of no crime, and politicians' readiness to impugn the patriotism of opponents without evidence. Johnson's own critique is not ideological; rather, his most important argument may be that ideological polarization continues to prevent us from rationally assessing and dealing with real threats. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, Philippa Brophy. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
PRAISE FOR THE BEST OF TIMES
"Beautifully written [and] as full of juicy tidbits as a cherry cake. [Johnson shows] how witty, perceptive and morally grown up American political journalism can be at its best." --The Economist
"An informed, balanced and . . . passionate catalog of the national indulgence and an examination of the forces that fed it. . . . Gripping. A vivid and reliable reminder of what we have been through."--The New York Times
PRAISE FOR THE AGE OF ANXIETY
"All of [Johnsons books] are worth reading, but The Age of Anxiety
stands out. It is a superb book, not only because it is skillfully reported, clearly written and timely, but also because Johnson employs controlled outrage to demonstrate that the administration of George W. Bush is relying . . . on the same sort of civil liberties violations, scare tactics and big lies as U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy and his fellow Republican politicians used 50 years ago to damage American democracy."The Denver Post
"Excellent . . . Johnson's book may have the prescription for righting ourselves this time."--The Seattle Times
Compelling narrative history, insightful political commentary, and intimate personal remembrance combine to make "The Age of Anxiety" a vitally important look at Senator Joseph McCarthy and his 1950s anti-Communist crusade.
For five long years in the 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthys anti-Communist crusade dominated the American scene, terrified politicians, and destroyed the lives of thousands of U.S. citizens. In The Age of Anxiety, now updated with a new afterword, Johnson tells this monumental story through the lens of its relevance to our own time, when the current administration has created a culture of fear that again affects American behavior and attitudes. He believes now, as then, that our civil liberties, our Constitution, and our nation are at stake as we confront the ever more difficult task of balancing the need for national security with that of personal liberty.
About the Author
Haynes Johnson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of the bestsellers Sleepwalking Through History and The Bay of Pigs. He is a regular on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and lives in Washington, D.C.
Table of Contents
To the Reader xi
Prologue A NEW KIND OF WAR 1
1. The List 9
2. Tail Gunner Joe 30
3. Progressivism to McCarthyism 56
4. The Remarkable Upstart 75
5. The Way to Wheeling 81
The Past as Prologue
6. In the Beginning 95
7. Cold Warriors 117
Dealing With a Demagogue
8. The Press 137
9. The Politicians 149
10. The Network 162
11. The Opposition 177
12. The Demagogue 193
Prelude to Power
13. Twenty Years of Treason 211
14. Taking More Scalps 241
15. Junketeering Gumshoes 253
16. Inquisitions 285
17. The Case of Private Schine 332
18. Point of Order! 381
19. "Have You No Shame, Senator?" 413
20. Belling the Cat 431
21. Oblivion 443
22. The Politics of Fear 459
23. Parallels 466
24. A House Divided 494
Epilogue THE AGE OF ANXIETY 515
About Sources 530
Source Notes 532
Bibliographical Notes 569