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The Rise and Fall of Senator Joe McCarthy [Kindle Edition]

James Cross Giblin
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

When Cold War tension was at its height, Joseph ("call me Joe") McCarthy conducted an anti-Communist crusade endorsed by millions of Americans, despite his unfair and unconstitutional methods. Award-winning writer James Cross Giblin tells the story of a man whose priorities centered on power and media attention and who stopped at nothing to obtain both. The strengths and weaknesses of the man and the system that permitted his rise are explored in this authoritative, lucid biography, which sets McCarthy's life against a teeming backdrop of world affairs and struggles between military and political rivals at home. Chapter notes, bibliography, index.

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7–10—Giblin includes considerable information about McCarthy's background and earlier career, but devotes most of the book to his election to the Senate and use of intimidation and smear tactics to gain enormous political power before his eventual public disgrace and early, alcohol-related death. The author provides limited background and context about the public fear of communism, but his main focus is on McCarthy's actions and the damage they did to innocent people and organizations. He includes extensive detail about McCarthy's campaigns and Senate hearings, which occasionally makes for dry reading. However, that problem is eclipsed by the weaknesses of the author's sources and his dated perspective on the McCarthy and early Cold War era. His most cited sources are biographies by Thomas Reeves (Stein & Day, 1982) and journalist Tom Wicker (Houghton, 2006), but he also repeatedly cites Wikipedia and the Columbia Encyclopedia. Although his source discussion mentions recent scholarship based upon declassified materials in the U.S. and the Soviet Union that documents Soviet espionage and penetration into the American government from the 1930s through the Cold War, he does not adequately take those discoveries into account. McCarthy's behavior and methods were inexcusable, but his crusade makes more sense when placed into the larger context of Cold War fears and the peril that those on the left, many admirers of the ideals of communism, faced when Americans began to view the Soviets as enemies and those who had associated with them as traitors. Excellent quality archival photos and political cartoons appear throughout. An additional title.—Mary Mueller, Rolla Junior High School, MO
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Timely and significant...If I were a high school teacher concentrating on the postwar era, I would devote a good part of my course to discussing this book for the cautionary tale it tells."--New York Times Book Review

"This lucid, authoritative portrait offers readers a compelling, real-life cautionary tale of blind ambition and the reckless pursuit of power. A tour de force."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Giblin's unmistakable research and passion for the subject add up to a comprehensive portrayal of a complex figure. Abundant source notes and further reading suggestions conclude this expansive undertaking."--Publishers Weekly

"Excellent quality archival photos and political cartoons appear throughout." --School Library Journal

Product Details

  • File Size: 33230 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books (December 14, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004H1UEDG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #531,312 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written and very informative November 24, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Well written and very informative. Appropriate for adults, high school students, and gifted middle school students. The author does not ignore controversial topics, such as questions about peoples' sexual orientation and how the prejudices of the 50s were used against people. He constructs a portrait of McCarthy that humanizes him more than other texts. McCarthy comes off more pitiful than evil. Everything McCarthy did, and the responses to him, are placed in the context of the age in which he lived. This book has a slightly left of center political orientation, but the author goes out of his way to remain objective and as unbiased as possible, considering the topic.

The photos supplement the text well.

I highly recommend this book. Like many young adult non-fiction books, they can be a great way for adults to quickly learn about topics about which they would like to know more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tail gunner Joe August 18, 2011
For five years (1950-54) of his two term tenure in the Senate, Joe McCarthy was one of the most well-known politicians in America. McCarthy was the nation's most notable fighter of Communist subversives during a time when it was an important issue for the American constituency. `The Rise and Fall of Senator Joe McCarthy' by James Cross Giblin gives the reader a meaty yet succinct portrayal of the conservative senator from Wisconsin.

His style of politics is still used today, although anyone who uses guilt by association or who makes unfounded accusations runs the risk of becoming an easy target for opponents. Joe McCarthy first used these tactics to attack the city editor of the Madison Capital Times, and he got more publicity for questioning the loyalty of Cedric Parker than anything he had done before. Shortly after that, McCarthy made a speech at West Virginia where he claimed 205 Communists were in the State Department. McCarthy received thousands of letters from supporters for his crusade against security risks.

Several world events made it a propitious time for McCarthy to fight Communism in the United States. Russian scientists detonated a nuclear bomb, and there were rumors that spies had passed them secrets to help them develop this technology. Just over a month later, Mao Zedung crushed the Nationalist Army of Chiang Kai-shek for control of China. Alger Hiss was convicted of two charges of perjury related to Communist spying a month after that, and Dr. Klaus Fuchs was arrested in London as a Soviet spy.

The 1952 midterm elections made McCarthy as powerful as he was popular. He gave a speech at the Republican National Convention where the punch line said One Communist in any agency is One Communist Too Many.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rise and Fall of Senator Joe McCarthy January 21, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
ISBN 0618610588 - For ages 12 and up. I love history, particularly political history, so choosing to read this one was an easy pick. Joe McCarthy, a man who set some stunningly low bars for behavior in politics, has been something of the monster under the bed for a good portion of my life, so a chance to revisit his life story was one I was glad to take.

Born into a large, close knit, Irish farming family, Joe McCarthy seemed to aspire to something - almost anything - all the time. He temporarily skipped high school to pursue a career as a chicken farmer, a business he built himself and which was quite successful. When disaster struck and his business was destroyed, Joe picked himself up and carried on, a trait that would define him for most of the rest of his life. The self-made chicken farmer pursued various other jobs, all successful, until he settled on politics, almost by accident.

As Joe was growing into his role as a politician, the world was changing. When Joe was born, there was Imperial Russia. When he was a child, Soviet Russia was born and Communism was on the rise. When Joe met Communism, years later, there was already a great deal of fear in the US about Communism. Joe, who had already developed the habit of telling blatant lies about his opposition in local elections, took great advantage of that fear to get publicity and power for himself. As a senator, Joe pursued Communism wherever he saw it and he saw it everywhere, or claimed he did. As quickly as he rose, he fell. The country finally woke up to the fact that he was simply fearmongering and his fellow senators finally put a stop to his activities. For once, Joe didn't pick himself up and carry on. His health added to his problems and Joe died, an unredeemed drunk, probably of the effects of alcoholism.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More of the same on its way June 21, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
What is startling about this is how timely it seems. You would think things like this could not happen again but here we are looking at the same sorts of circumstances now albeit a different skapegoat.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good history, better understanding, but ... June 10, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Regardless of whether one believes Joe McCarthy was a total nut-case or a near prophet, or anything in between, this book will be a good addition to one's history collection if politics is of interest. I did find it a bit troubling that the majority of references were to a previous biography of McCarthy by Thomas C. Reeves, as well as numerous Wikipedia references. Some may not find the latter particularly troubling, but it seems to be too fluid to be useful as a definitive source for factual material. Clearly, however, the author did a great deal of study for this book, and presented the material in a readable fashion.

At the same time, I found a concluding "prediction" to be so very ironic these days, both because the advance copy of the McCarthy book I received was only published in December 2009, and also because of what I'd consider a rather naive statement, especially given not only recent political events, but also what the nation endured with McCarthy and others in between. In his epilogue, the author contemplates the possibility of the rise of another "leader who claimed to have the answer." His conclusion? "Thoughtful Americans, however, would probably question and challenge the new leader's simplistic solutions, especially if they conflicted with the Constitution and its Bill of Rights. ... One thing is certain: Our democratic form of government, with its checks and balances, has survived serious assaults in the past. With luck, and the attentiveness and dedication of its citizens, the nation and the principles on which it relies will continue to prevail." In light of the current and just-past administrations, at minimum, such a statement seems exceptionally naive, if not detached from the reality we've witnessed these past several years.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars For young adults
I was disappointed to discover that this book is for young adults. There's nothing worn with that, but it is not clearly or prominently indicated, so the possibility that this was... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Mls6
5.0 out of 5 stars Will appeal to everybody. No sneering, no partisanship, no knives are...
I had no idea this book was geared to young people and I found it fascinating and entrancing throughout. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Ronald Haak
5.0 out of 5 stars Very informative.
Incredibly written book. It portrayed tons of information in ways a five-year-old could understand. It was a little bias but these days it is hard to find anything on the subject... Read more
Published on May 25, 2011 by O. Sarch
1.0 out of 5 stars A great opportunity...squandered
When I first came across this middle school-targeted McCarthy overview
I'll admit that I was actually expecting a much more balanced treatment
of Joseph... Read more
Published on August 3, 2010 by Hollywood Gourmand
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Children's Biography of Senator Joe McCarthy
I found this to be an outstanding book. This is one I will place in my bookcase at school and use when I teach McCarthyism. Read more
Published on April 29, 2010 by Lynn Ellingwood
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read, but nothing new.
I enjoyed the book as a simple biography of Joe McCarthy. However, there isn't really anything new here that hasn't been written in other more in depth and scholarly books. Read more
Published on March 16, 2010 by Craig
4.0 out of 5 stars A good generalist review
Joseph McCarthy was a fascinating figure in American Politics. He entered the senate in the 1940's, but made a name for himself in the 50's in his relentless pursuit of communists. Read more
Published on February 17, 2010 by Deborah V
4.0 out of 5 stars A well researched, well written version of McCarthy era for young...
Political discourse is so vile now that I specifically wanted to read this version of McCarthy's political career in order to refresh my memory about whether or not it has always... Read more
Published on January 29, 2010 by B. Smawley
5.0 out of 5 stars Richie's Picks: THE RISE AND FALL OF SENATOR JOE MCCARTHY
"What about his views on the issues? some of his friends asked. Wouldn't voters want to know about them? Not necessarily, McCarthy replied. Read more
Published on December 5, 2009 by Richie Partington
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