Larry Tye, Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy

Please join Bookworks and historian Larry Tye for a talk about his new book, Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy.

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The definitive biography of the most dangerous demagogue in American history, based on first-ever review of his personal and professional papers, medical and military records, and recently unsealed transcripts of his closed-door Congressional hearings

In the long history of American demagogues, from Huey Long to Donald Trump, never has one man caused so much damage in such a short time as Senator Joseph McCarthy. We still use "McCarthyism" to stand for outrageous charges of guilt by association, a weapon of polarizing slander. From 1950 to 1954, McCarthy destroyed many careers and even entire lives, whipping the nation into a frenzy of paranoia, accusation, loyalty oaths, and terror. When the public finally turned on him, he came crashing down, dying of alcoholism in 1957. Only now, through bestselling author Larry Tye's exclusive look at the senator's records, can the full story be told. 

Demagogue is a masterful portrait of a human being capable of immense evil, yet beguiling charm. McCarthy was a tireless worker and a genuine war hero. His ambitions knew few limits. Neither did his socializing, his drinking, nor his gambling. When he finally made it to the Senate, he flailed around in search of an agenda and angered many with his sharp elbows and lack of integrity. Finally, after three years, he hit upon anti-communism. By recklessly charging treason against everyone from George Marshall to much of the State Department, he became the most influential and controversial man in America. His chaotic, meteoric rise is a gripping and terrifying object lesson for us all. Yet his equally sudden fall from fame offers reason for hope that, given the rope, most American demagogues eventually hang themselves.

Larry Tye is the best-selling author of Bobby Kennedy and Satchel, as well as Superman, The Father of Spin, Home Lands, and Rising from the Rails, and co-author, with Kitty Dukakis, of Shock. Previously an award-winning reporter and national writer at the Boston Globe and a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, he now runs the Boston-based Health Coverage Fellowship. He lives in Massachusetts.


"Written in a straightforward, judicious style...a definitive biography that will stand the test of time." -- Library Journal

"[A] sure-handed account . . . searing and informative portrait of [Senator Joseph McCarthy] and his specific brand of self-aggrandizing demagoguery." --Publishers Weekly

"Meaty narrative . . . a timely examination of a would-be savior whose name remains a byword for demagoguery." --Kirkus Reviews

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Sunday, July 19, 2020 - 5:00pm
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Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy Cover Image
ISBN: 9781328959720
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - July 7th, 2020

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ISBN: 9780805078503
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