A uniquely American strain of demagoguery has pulsed through the nation’s veins from its founding days—and few people represent that more succinctly than Senator Joseph McCarthy.
Today, every schoolchild in America is introduced to Joe McCarthy, but generally as a caricature. Generations more intimate with his work, recall the senator mainly with catch phrases like witch hunter. While those who worked in tandem with him, extolled the precedents he set in government as all-knowing and seeing for the greater good of the people. Somewhere between that saint and sinner lies the real man. Author Larry Tye got the first-ever access to McCarthy’s personal and professional papers, medical and military records, love letters, wartime diaries, and other files that had been under lock and key for half a century. Examining this fresh evidence of McCarthy’s official excesses, and of his surprising behind-the-scenes humanity, makes him more authentic, if also more confounding. He was in fact more insecure than we portrayed publicly, more undone by his boozing, more embracing of friends and avenging of foes, and more sinister. The newly-disclosed records shave away the myths and illuminate how the junior senator from Grand Chute rose to become powerful enough not just to intimidate Dwight Eisenhower, our most popular postwar president, but to provoke senators and others to take their own lives.
Join Gail Saltz and author of Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy, Larry Tye, in investigating one of the rise of one of the most reviled figures in U.S. history.
A book signing follows the event.