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What's meant by that head-turning title--a tipoff to the stagecraft here--is who or what brought Joe McCarthy down? Ostensibly: who in the Eisenhower administration engineered the Army charges that McCarthy and committee counsel Roy Cohn exerted pressure on behalf of Private G. David Schine--charges that led to the fateful Army-McCarthy hearings? The reader will learn an awful lot about the whole fracas--without being able to judge, in the absence of footnotes, either the specific sources or whether the emblazoned information is actually new. Most, in fact, has emerged piecemeal from the slew of recent, pertinent publications: Eisenhower's diaries, press secretary Jim Hagerty's diary, Army counsel John Adams' recollections, the two McCarthy mega-bios (Reeves, 1982; Oshinsky, 1983). Ewald, a White House aide who later helped Eisenhower with his memoirs, also broached the subject in his 1981 Eisenhower the President. What he has gotten hold of, however, are the Army documents, entrusted to Assistant Secretary of Defense Fred Seaton (and now in the Eisenhower Library), on which the anti-McCarthy/Cohn charges were based. He utilizes them for his docudrama reconstruction (""At three-ten that November 12 afternoon,"" etc.). He reproduces parts of them to characterize the principals' performance: ""Army secretary Stevens, the soul of equanimity, replied""; ""Next, McCarthy tried flattery."" And, he concludes justly: ""The long contemporaneous record--day by day, minute by minute--of the Army's fecklessness and compliance. . . took the edge off the stridency of their charges and undercut many of the assertions in Stevens' testimony."" What we also see, in greater detail than heretofore, is just who pulled which strings--from Eisenhower chief-of-staff Sherman Adams' suggestion that Adams compile a record of the pressures to Seaton's transformation of that material into the crisp published charges--without Eisenhower's knowledge. And this is where we come to the crux of the book: Ewald's assertion that Eisenhower's hands-off/ high-road policy brought McCarthy down. It's the thesis, too, of Fred Greenstein's Hidden Hand Presidency--and it isn't any more persuasive here than there. Ewald, whose chronicle is fraught with turning points and ""long shadows,"" comes closer to reality when he fixes on petulant-inductee Schine and wily-innocent lawyer Joe Welch. All those phone calls and cab rides, twice and thrice recounted, make for laborious reading; and the lack of scholarship leaves a big job still to be done. But there does seem to be a correspondingly gluttonous interest in the subject; for that audience, this is today's fullest source.

Pub Date: April 23rd, 1984
Publisher: Simon & Schuster