Shooting Star

The Brief Arc of Joe McCarthy

By Tom Wicker
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780151010820, 224pp.)

Publication Date: March 2006

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Joe McCarthy first became visible to the nation on February 9, 1950, when he delivered a Lincoln Day address to local Republicans in Wheeling, West Virginia. That night he declared, "I have here in my hand a list of 205 [members of the Communist Party] still working and shaping policy in the State Department." Anticommunism was already a cause embraced by the Republican Party as a whole; McCarthy tapped into this current and turned it into a flood. Little more than five years later, after countless hearings and stormy speeches and after incalculable damage to ordinary Americans and the nation itself, McCarthy's Senate colleagues voted sixty-seven to twenty-two to censure him for his reckless accusations and fabrications. We know today that not one prosecution resulted from McCarthy's investigations into communists in the U.S. government.

Journalist Tom Wicker examines McCarthy's ambition and record, attempting to discover the motivation for his demagoguery.

About the Author

TOM WICKER began covering national politics for the New York Times in 1960. He is the author of ten novels and nine works of nonfiction, including biographies of Dwight D. Eisenhower and George Herbert Walker Bush. He lives in Vermont.

Praise For Shooting Star

"Part history, part biography, part inquest on dead hopes, the book is a first-rate creative study of personalities and events and of how they have affected each other."-THE NEW YORKER

"One of the fairest as well as liveliest [books on these two presidencies] . . . The moral of JFK and LBJ is that the more the presidential candidate inflates what the people expect of his presidency the more vulnerable he becomes to the iron laws that bind him in office."

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