Madison BookBeat – Madison authors, book events, and publishers
Stu Levitan welcomes best-selling author Larry Tye, whose new book Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy is filled with important revelations about the man and his ism.
Joseph Raymond McCarthy was a farm boy from the Fox River Valley, grandson of Irish-German immigrants. Highly intelligent and industrious, a teenage poultry tycoon, and a war hero as well. But the truth was not in him, and he was a bully, and an alcoholic. May have been bi-polar as well.
From the early spring of 1950 to the summer of 1954, Joe McCarthy was one of the most popular and powerful politicians in the country, and certainly the most destructive.
How this man became an ism in the fifties, and the implications of his story for the America of today, is the business that occupies Larry Tye in his new biography Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy, just out from Houghton Mifflin. It’s a revelatory book because Larry has hit the historian’s jackpot – unprecedented and exclusive access to McCarthy’s personal papers and official records, material kept secret for sixty years, but now providing lots of news and insights.
As we have come to expect from Larry Tye, the best-selling author most recently of Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon, as well as biographies of Satchel Paige, Superman and others. Before all that, he was an award-winning reporter at the Boston Globe. and a Nieman fellow at Harvard University – itself a frequent McCarthy target. He now also runs the Boston-based Health Coverage Fellowship.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Larry for the Satchel Paige book, but was between stations when the Bobby Kennedy book came out, so it is a pleasure to welcome to Madison BookBeat one of my favorite modern biographers, Larry Tye.