Date & Time
Wednesday, July 8, 2020
Seminary Co-op Bookstore
Free and open to the public
Seminary Co-op Bookstore
Larry Tye will discuss "Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy." A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.
At the Co-op
About the book: 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.
About the author: Larry Tye is a New York Times bestselling author whose most recent book is a biography of Robert F. Kennedy, the former attorney general, U.S. senator, and presidential candidate. "Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon" explores RFK’s extraordinary transformation from cold warrior to fiery leftist. Tye’s first book, "The Father of Spin," is a biography of public relations pioneer Edward L. Bernays. "Home Lands" looks at the Jewish renewal underway from Boston to Buenos Aires. "Rising from the Rails" explores how the black men who worked on George Pullman’s railroad sleeping cars helped kick-start the Civil Rights movement and gave birth to today’s African-American middle class.
In addition to his writing, Tye runs the Boston-based Health Coverage Fellowship, which helps the media do a better job reporting on critical issues like public health, mental health, and high-tech medicine. Tye, who graduated from Brown University, was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1993-94. He taught journalism at Boston University, Northeastern, and Tufts.