Madison authors, topics, book events and publishers
An encore presentation of a conversation with Madison’s own David Maraniss, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, associate editor for the Washington Post and best-selling author, about his latest book, A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father. The hour originally aired in May, 2019, when David appeared at the Wisconsin Book Festival, and was rebroadcast Nov. 16, 2020, to mark the publication of the paperback edition.
David Maraniss has earned the sobriquet “Madison’s favorite journalistic son” because while he wasn’t born here, he did grow up here, West High class of 1967. That was because his father, Elliott Maraniss, was himself one of the city’s leading journalists as a reporter and editor for The Capital Times from 1957 to his retirement in 1982. But that is at the end of the story which David tells in A Good American Family, the very troubling and sadly still-relevant saga of how Elliott was blacklisted in 1952 when he was exposed as having been a member of the communist party, and what happened after.
Among David’s eleven earlier books – biographies of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Vince Lombardi and Roberto Clemente, and a trilogy of books about the 1960s – Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed The World; Once In A Great City: A Detroit Story, and They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America and Vietnam, October 1967. That book has special relevance for local listeners because it is the most comprehensive account of the events leading up to the protest against the Dow Chemical Company that month.
Before we begin, two disclaimers. First, like almost everyone who has reviewed the book or interviewed the author, I’m pleased to say that David is a friend of mine and in fact while he doesn’t realize it, our connection goes back to 1956. Second, unlike everyone else who has reviewed the book or interviewed David, I worked for Elliott at the Capital Times, as the Washington correspondent and then general assignment reporter from the summer of 1975 to the fall of 1977, when I quit the paper to support of the strike by the production unions. We’ll get to that at the end of the hour.