Catalogue


The age of anxiety : McCarthyism to terrorism /
Haynes Johnson.
edition
1st ed.
imprint
Orlando : Harcourt, Inc., c2005.
description
xii, 609 p.
ISBN
0151010625, 9780151010622
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Orlando : Harcourt, Inc., c2005.
isbn
0151010625
9780151010622
general note
"A James H. Silberman book."
catalogue key
5617127
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
The List I have here in my hand. Thursday afternoon was overcast, the temperature hovering just above freezing, when the black-haired, heavyset man carrying a bulging, battered tan briefcase boarded a Capital Airlines plane for the two hundred-seventeen-mile flight from Washington's National Airport to Wheeling, West Virginia. "Good afternoon, Senator McCarthy," he heard the stewardess say after he took his seat. He looked startled, then pleased, not realizing the stewardess had been waiting to greet him after noticing a senator's name on her passenger list. "Why, good afternoon," he replied, flashing a broad smile. "I'm glad somebody recognizes me." There was no false modesty in his remark. On February 9, 1950, Joe McCarthy was neither a household name nor a recognizable public face. In four years as a freshman senator, a position he held by virtue of the 1946 Republican sweep of both houses of Congress, his record was so undistinguished that in a recent poll Washington correspondents had voted him America's worst senator. As he boarded the plane, McCarthy's career was in shambles. In his home state of Wisconsin, critics were calling him the "Pepsi-Cola kid" because of reports that he had taken $10,000 from a manufacturer of prefabricated housing and obtained an unsecured loan of $20,000 from a lobbyist for Pepsi-Cola. Then it was disclosed that he recklessly lost the money speculating on soybean futures. A year prior, McCarthy, a lawyer, had come close to being disbarred by the Wisconsin State Board of Ethics Examiners; he had run for the U.S. Senate while holding a state judicial office, a practice deemed both unethical and illegal. The board found that he had acted "in violation of the constitution and laws of Wisconsin," but dismissed a petition to discipline him by concluding that his infraction was "one in a class by itself which was not likely to be repeated." McCarthy's reply was contemptuous. Paraphrasing the board's ruling, he mocked, "Joe was a naughty boy, but we don't think he'll do it again." He was also in trouble in Washington. In a clubbish Senate that relied on hoary tradition and deferential collegiality, on rigid seniority and elaborate courtesy, his repeated violations of Senate rules and customs had lost him the respect of influential colleagues in both parties and denied him a place among the players who would shape the legislative future. Already he had alienated both Republican and Democratic colleagues by lashing out during floor debates with false accusations against them. Once, in the spring of 1947, he so enraged two fellow Republicans, Ralph E. Flanders of Vermont and Charles W. Tobey of New Hampshire, that both arose in protest and, claiming personal privilege, accused McCarthy of having falsified their positions. This came after McCarthy told the Senate that both Flanders and Tobey had just informed him that they intended to introduce a "fictitious amendment" designed to "deceive the housewife" on a bill to extend wartime sugar controls for a year. So furious was Tobey that, red-faced and shouting, he accused McCarthy of lying and attempting to confuse the Senate. As McCarthy was acutely aware, for these reasons and others his prospects for reelection in 1952 were imperiled. He had been consulting, in fact, his advisors about finding a cause to bolster his public standing and reverse his political slide. All this was about to change when his plane took off that February afternoon for West Virginia. The way west is the most enduring of American legends, and in its time Wheeling, West Virginia, played a central role in that saga. There, where the last battle of the Revolutionary War was fought at Fort Henry, a flood of pioneers and adventurers found their overland gateway west through Wheeling's gorges to claim free land beyond the Alleghenies in the Ohio River Valley. By the time Joe McCarthy's flight lande
First Chapter
The List

I have here in my hand.

Thursday afternoon was overcast, the temperature hovering just above freezing, when the black-haired, heavyset man carrying a bulging, battered tan briefcase boarded a Capital Airlines plane for the two hundred-seventeen-mile flight from Washington's National Airport to Wheeling, West Virginia. "Good afternoon, Senator McCarthy," he heard the stewardess say after he took his seat. He looked startled, then pleased, not realizing the stewardess had been waiting to greet him after noticing a senator's name on her passenger list. "Why, good afternoon," he replied, flashing a broad smile. "I'm glad somebody recognizes me."

There was no false modesty in his remark. On February 9, 1950, Joe McCarthy was neither a household name nor a recognizable public face. In four years as a freshman senator, a position he held by virtue of the 1946 Republican sweep of both houses of Congress, his record was so undistinguished that in a recent poll Washington correspondents had voted him America's worst senator.

As he boarded the plane, McCarthy's career was in shambles. In his home state of Wisconsin, critics were calling him the "Pepsi-Cola kid" because of reports that he had taken $10,000 from a manufacturer of prefabricated housing and obtained an unsecured loan of $20,000 from a lobbyist for Pepsi-Cola. Then it was disclosed that he recklessly lost the money speculating on soybean futures.

A year prior, McCarthy, a lawyer, had come close to being disbarred by the Wisconsin State Board of Ethics Examiners; he had run for the U.S. Senate while holding a state judicial office, a practice deemed both unethical and illegal. The board found that he had acted "in violation of the constitution and laws of Wisconsin," but dismissed a petition to discipline him by concluding that his infraction was "one in a class by itself which was not likely to be repeated."

McCarthy's reply was contemptuous. Paraphrasing the board's ruling, he mocked, "Joe was a naughty boy, but we don't think he'll do it again."

He was also in trouble in Washington.

In a clubbish Senate that relied on hoary tradition and deferential collegiality, on rigid seniority and elaborate courtesy, his repeated violations of Senate rules and customs had lost him the respect of influential colleagues in both parties and denied him a place among the players who would shape the legislative future. Already he had alienated both Republican and Democratic colleagues by lashing out during floor debates with false accusations against them. Once, in the spring of 1947, he so enraged two fellow Republicans, Ralph E. Flanders of Vermont and Charles W. Tobey of New Hampshire, that both arose in protest and, claiming personal privilege, accused McCarthy of having falsified their positions. This came after McCarthy told the Senate that both Flanders and Tobey had just informed him that they intended to introduce a "fictitious amendment" designed to "deceive the housewife" on a bill to extend wartime sugar controls for a year. So furious was Tobey that, red-faced and shouting, he accused McCarthy of lying and attempting to confuse the Senate.

As McCarthy was acutely aware, for these reasons and others his prospects for reelection in 1952 were imperiled. He had been consulting, in fact, his advisors about finding a cause to bolster his public standing and reverse his political slide. All this was about to change when his plane took off that February afternoon for West Virginia.

The way west is the most enduring of American legends, and in its time Wheeling, West Virginia, played a central role in that saga.

There, where the last battle of the Revolutionary War was fought at Fort Henry, a flood of pioneers and adventurers found their overland gateway west through Wheeling's gorges to claim free land beyond the Alleghenies in the Ohio River Valley. By the time Joe McCarthy's flight landed that February afternoon, Wheeling, once West Virginia's capital and leading city, had become a cultural and economic backwater. Its population had sunk to fifty-nine thousand from its peak of seventy thousand, and the exodus was accelerating. Wheeling was hardly the place for an obscure freshman senator to make his mark in history, especially at a political boilerplate event like the annual Lincoln Day speech to the Republican Women's Club of Ohio County-in a state that had voted Democratic in the last five presidential elections, including Harry S. Truman's two years earlier.

As unlikely as the backdrop was, when Joe McCarthy flew into Wheeling, West Virginia, the stage for McCarthyism had already been set.

Each morning that week, citizens of Wheeling had awakened to find the pages of their newspaper filled with frightening reports of treachery, spies, Communists, terrible new nuclear weapons, and a Cold War turning hot. Everything pointed toward a war of incalculable destruction. There seemed no end to alarming news flashes. Typical was the eight-column banner headline spread across the Wheeling Intelligencer's front page, two days before McCarthy left for Wheeling:

FBI Hunts Fuchs' Aides in Atom Theft

The headline decks told the story, reported out of Washington:

Hoover Relates
Spy Activities
To Congressmen

British Scientist
Faces Trial Friday
For Betraying U.S.

Klaus Emil Fuchs, a British subject of German extraction who as a physicist had worked for three years in the United States on the ultrasecret atomic bomb project, had been arrested in London. Fuchs, "weedy, with a large head and narrow, rickety body," as the writer Rebecca West described him, was charged with transmitting to Soviet agents in the U.S. "all he knew" about America's A-bomb development. As the record revealed, Fuchs knew a lot.

Days after these shocking revelations, a federal jury found Alger Hiss, a top diplomatic aide to Franklin Roosevelt at the Yalta Conference, guilty of perjury in a highly-publicized espionage trial. An ex-Communist named Whittaker Chambers had accused Hiss in House Un-American Activities Committee testimony of being a Soviet agent who passed him secret government documents. After Hiss's conviction, Secretary of State Dean Acheson drew protests for telling reporters, "I do not intend to turn my back on Alger Hiss." Then Acheson made matters worse by invoking the words of a forgiving Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in connection with the case of a convicted traitor.

Coming on the heels of Fuchs's arrest, and Hiss's conviction, President Truman's announcement that the United States had begun work on the hydrogen bomb only intensified national anxiety. The hydrogen bomb was the deadliest weapon yet known to humankind. Albert Einstein, the father of the nuclear age, appeared on national television warning that "radioactive poisoning of the atmosphere and, hence, annihilation of any life on earth has been brought within the range of possibilities." Einstein's conclusion: "General annihilation beckons." In this context, one of the staunchest Republican anticommunists, Homer Capehart of Indiana, cried out on the Senate floor: "How much more are we going to take? Fuchs and Acheson and Hiss and hydrogen bombs threatening outside and New Dealism eating away the vitals of the nation. In the name of heaven, is this the best the nation can do?"


Copyright © 2005 by Haynes Johnson

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced
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Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work
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Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2006-07-01:
Johnson surveys the politics of McCarthyism and draws on this history to assess the recurrence of abuses of personal freedom in the contemporary war on terrorism. His thesis, articulated in the preface, is that "the reign of terror in the 1950s called McCarthyism" helped shape "the context in which we fight today's war on terror. McCarthyism stands as a warning of what can happen when fears and anxieties combine to create hysteria in public and political life." A respected journalist and television commentator, Johnson has primarily researched the extensive secondary literature on McCarthyism. His well-written monograph, however, adds little new information about either the McCarthy phenomenon or post-9/11 responses. The author's principal contribution--built upon the work of McCarthyism historians, notably, Robert Griffith's The Politics of Fear (CH, Apr'71), David Oshinsky's A Conspiracy So Immense (CH, Oct'83), and Thomas Reeve's The Life and Times of Joe McCarthy (1982)--is a riveting and tightly paced survey of the senator's rise and fall. Then, in a briefer section, Johnson draws parallels with post-9/11 developments. This thoughtful analysis captures the essence of the McCarthy phenomenon and its lessons for contemporary responses to the threat of Islamist terrorism. Summing Up: Recommended. Most public and undergraduate levels/libraries. A. Theoharis Marquette University
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2005-12-05:
Sen. Joseph McCarthy's Communist witch hunt was one of the darkest chapters in our nation's history, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Johnson brings that story-along with some disturbing comparisons to our current political climate-startlingly to life. Conservatives may take umbrage with Johnson's criticism of President Bush's regime and the comparisons to McCarthyism, but no matter one's political affiliation, one cannot help being ashamed and horrified that such sinister machinations have happened-and may be happening again-in our nation. Approximately three-fourths of the book is devoted to a historical recounting of McCarthy's crusade, with the remaining quarter spent comparing McCarthyism to present-day politics. This production is so expertly abridged, listeners get the complete picture without feeling like anything has been left out. Narrator Tabori, in his deep, resonant and impassioned voice, authoritatively relates this brilliant piece of journalism in a style reminiscent of the voiceovers used in historical documentaries or by wartime news anchors. Tabori's diction is precise and compelling, and adds a memorably emotional impact to this already powerful work. Simultaneous release with the Harcourt hardcover (Reviews, July 25). (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Library Journal on 2005-06-01:
A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist reconstructs the McCarthy era and its enduring legacy. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
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 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
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Library Journal, June 2005
Publishers Weekly, July 2005
Booklist, August 2005
Library Journal, September 2005
Wall Street Journal, October 2005
Globe & Mail, November 2005
Choice, July 2006
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
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.
Main Description
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.
Long Description
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.
Table of Contents
To the Readerp. xi
Prologue: A New Kind of Warp. 1
McCarthyism
The Listp. 9
Tail Gunner Joep. 30
Progressivism to McCarthyismp. 56
The Remarkable Upstartp. 75
The Way to Wheelingp. 81
The Past as Prologue
In the Beginningp. 95
Cold Warriorsp. 117
Dealing With a Demagogue
The Pressp. 137
The Politiciansp. 149
The Networkp. 162
The Oppositionp. 177
The Demagoguep. 193
Prelude to Power
Twenty Years of Treasonp. 211
Taking More Scalpsp. 241
Junketeering Gumshoesp. 253
Witch Hunts
Inquisitionsp. 285
The Case of Private Schinep. 332
Point of Order!p. 381
"Have You No Shame, Senator?"p. 413
Judgment
Belling the Catp. 431
Oblivionp. 443
Legacy
The Politics of Fearp. 459
Parallelsp. 466
A House Dividedp. 494
Epilogue: The Age of Anxietyp. 515
About Sourcesp. 530
Source Notesp. 532
Bibliographical Notesp. 569
Acknowledgmentsp. 581
Indexp. 583
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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