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The Rise and Fall of Senator Joe McCarthy

by James Cross Giblin

Published by Clarion / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009
304 pages
ISBN: 978-0-618-61058-7

Ages 14 and older

James Cross Giblin’s astute and insightful biography of the Wisconsin senator looks at both the life of the man and and the post-war climate in the late 1940s and early 1950s that helped fuel his rise to national power. Yet some of the most fascinating traits Giblin reveals about McCarthy precede his infamy. A highly motivated self-starter, McCarthy sought his first elected office when still in his twenties, and from early in his political career he found ways to exploit the truth and the media, using negative campaign tactics that are common today. He boldly altered his personal history to make himself appear a more patriotic and appealing candidate in his early runs for office. All these details, along with McCarthy’s gambling, drinking, and ever-growing fanaticism that was as much or more about the desire for power than the desire to battle Communism make for fascinating reading. It’s also a chilling look at how power and politics can be so easily exploited, one that invites discussion of important topics that have continued relevance today, including the role of journalism and the media in a democracy.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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