Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy

Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy

by Larry Tye


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The definitive biography of the most dangerous demagogue in American history, based on first-ever review of his personal and professional papers, medical and military records, and recently unsealed transcripts of his closed-door Congressional hearings

In the long history of American demagogues, from Huey Long to Donald Trump, never has one man caused so much damage in such a short time as Senator Joseph McCarthy. We still use “McCarthyism” to stand for outrageous charges of guilt by association, a weapon of polarizing slander. From 1950 to 1954, McCarthy destroyed many careers and even entire lives, whipping the nation into a frenzy of paranoia, accusation, loyalty oaths, and terror. When the public finally turned on him, he came crashing down, dying of alcoholism in 1957. Only now, through bestselling author Larry Tye’s exclusive look at the senator’s records, can the full story be told.

Demagogue is a masterful portrait of a human being capable of immense evil, yet beguiling charm. McCarthy was a tireless worker and a genuine war hero. His ambitions knew few limits. Neither did his socializing, his drinking, nor his gambling. When he finally made it to the Senate, he flailed around in search of an agenda and angered many with his sharp elbows and lack of integrity. Finally, after three years, he hit upon anti-communism. By recklessly charging treason against everyone from George Marshall to much of the State Department, he became the most influential and controversial man in America. His chaotic, meteoric rise is a gripping and terrifying object lesson for us all. Yet his equally sudden fall from fame offers reason for hope that, given the rope, most American demagogues eventually hang themselves.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781328959720
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 07/07/2020
Pages: 608
Sales rank: 15,218
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 8.90(h) x 2.00(d)

About the Author

LARRY TYE is the best-selling author of Bobby Kennedy and Satchel, as well as Superman, The Father of Spin, Home Lands, and Rising from the Rails, and co-author, with Kitty Dukakis, of Shock. Previously an award-winning reporter at the Boston Globe and a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, Tye now runs the Boston-based Health Coverage Fellowship. He lives in Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Preface 1

A Joe McCarthy Chronology 11

Author's Note 15

1 Coming Alive 17

2 Senator Who? 65

3 An Ism Is Born 114

4 Bully's Pulpit 188

5 Behind Closed Doors 244

6 The Body Count 300

7 The Enablers 341

8 Too Big to Bully 372

9 The Fall 447

Epilogue 475

Acknowledgments 483

Notes 487

Bibliography 523

Index 571

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