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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About the reviewer
Todd Stockslager (TStocksl)
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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