A revisionist biography of Joseph McCarthy and the red-baiting movement he spawned.
Most Americans look upon McCarthyism as part of one of the darkest and most shameful periods in the country’s history, one in which past associations, flimsy as they may have been, were drudged up and examined in the public square to foment hysteria and advance a craven politician’s career. But not Evans (The Theme Is Freedom, 1994, etc.), who views McCarthy as the misunderstood Cassandra, the lone truth-teller with the courage and insight to expose the vast red conspiracy that supposedly infiltrated the highest levels of government. The McCarthy portrayed here was ultimately undone by slicker, more media-savvy politicians with a vested interest in keeping quiet the Stalinists in our midst who were plotting the overthrow of the American government. The book is exhaustively researched and impeccably sourced, as it traces the rise of the Communist Party from the 1930s onward and identifies the lives and careers of fellow travelers as they worked their way up through the State Department. Though overlong, it is also well-written and accessible. But it’s highly unlikely that Evans will win any converts. McCarthy wasn’t a victim but a craven brute who played fast and loose with the facts, someone perfectly willing to destroy lives and reputations for political gain. A clear-eyed account of the Communist Party in midcentury would be most welcome, but would need to include an honest appraisal of the man properly regarded as its chief villain, rather than the Commie-under-your-bed conspiracy Evans lays out here.
A detailed account of McCarthy and of the CPUSA marred by ideological blinders. For true believers only.