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Shooting Star: The Brief Arc of Joe McCarthy

1 rating: 3.0
A book by Tom Wicker

America's most notorious demagogue emerges as less a fanatic than an opportunist in this lively political biography. LongtimeNew York Timespolitical writer Wicker, author of well-received studies of Eisenhower and other presidents, notes that the 1950 … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Tom Wicker
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
1 review about Shooting Star: The Brief Arc of Joe McCarthy

Seen a shooting star tonight, and I thought of you

  • Jan 20, 2011
Wicker's aptly-named extended essay on Senator Joe McCarthy reminds us that his period of ascendancy was so brief that it seems a presage of modern burnouts; as Neil Young wrote, its better to burn out, like Johnny Rotten, than to fade away.

Wicker uses the term "subversion" frequently to describe McCarthy's charges against his accused Communist sympathizers and fellow-travelers. 

Subversion (n):  corruption: destroying someone's (or some group's) honesty or loyalty; undermining moral integrity

Wicker makes the point that in fact McCarthyism (itself now an accepted dictionary definition) was a subversion of the democratic process it supposedly was defending.  He also credits McCarthy, from the historical perspective of 50 years since and with more historical documentation now declassified, with actually making some accusations containing more truth than was credited at the time.  But Wicker concludes, while acknowledging his political savvy and sometimes likable personality, with the ultimate cynicism of his career.

Nothing ground-breaking or new here, but well told by a working journalist whose career was just beginning in the twilight of McCarthy's downward arc.

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