AMERICAN DEMAGOGUES: The Twentieth Century by Reinhard Luthin

AMERICAN DEMAGOGUES: The Twentieth Century

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Proof that ""It can happen here"" In some ten portraits of men who have achieved commanding roles in American politics. With two exceptions, these have been at state and city level; Huey Long and Joe McCarthy alone have aspired higher. Vignettes of careers, the majority of the principals men ""of the people"" who used that as part of their ammunition to persuade voters they were also ""for the people"", these analyses bring to light many basic similarities. Most of the demagogues have exploited race and religion, most have played up emotional appeal, all have been talented exhibitionists, the majority have been basically anti-intellectual and used educational institutions as political footballs. Intolerance of the press has been another common factor (though some of them established their own organs). Brilliant political strategy has counterbalanced fundamental ignorance, and the oversimplified explanations have appealed to the lowest common denominator of voters. McCarthy, more than any of the others, has deviated from the appeal to plain folks by being friendly to the ""interests"" (from whom much of his financing has come). A revealing -- and a depressing-picture of melodramatic figures in the American scene:- Curley, Bilbo, ""Alfalfa Bill"", Frank Hague, The Fergusons, Eugene Talmadge, Big Bill Thompson, Marcantonio (some will question his inclusion as a demagogue), Huey Long and Joe McCarthy. The author has an impressive series of writings under his name.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1954
Publisher: Beacon