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Giblin, Clarion Books, December 2009, 304p., ISBN:  978-0-618-61058-7
"Figure One: 
Understand the procedure now?  Just stop a few of their  machines and 
radios and telephones and lawn mowers...throw them into darkness  for a few hours 
and then you just sit back and watch the pattern.
Figure Two:
And this pattern is always the same?
Figure One:
With few variations.  They pick the most dangerous enemy  they can 
find...and it's themselves.  And all we need to do is sit  back...and watch.
Figure Two:
Then I take it this place...this Maple not  unique.  
Figure One (shaking his head):
By no means.  Their world is full of Maple Streets.   And we'll go from one 
to the other and let them destroy themselves.  One to  the to 
the to the other..."
-- "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street" by Rod  Serling
"What about his views on the issues? some of his friends  asked.  Wouldn't 
voters want to know about them?  Not necessarily,  McCarthy replied.  In his 
opinion, voters didn't care all that much about  political issues.  How 
they voted depended more on their feelings about a  candidate.  A handshake, a 
smile, a personal note on a postcard letting  them know the candidate 
remembered them -- those were much more  important."
I have confidence that there will be many a teen out  there who will really 
get it.  The teen who reads James Cross Giblin's  very-readable THE RISE 
AND FALL OF SENATOR JOE MCCARTHY and then says to a  friend or a friendly 
Okay, now I get it.  This is how politics  works.
Okay, now I get it.  This is how one person can gain  immense power and 
randomly destroy honest and innocent people's  lives.
Okay, now I get it.  Information and truth are  manipulated and perverted 
by those who have both gained power and mastered the  art of mass 
Okay, now I get it.  Many millions of people  don't even care about 
information being manipulated and perverted.   They are so not paying attention to 
what is going on in their country or in the  world.
Okay, now I get it.  This is  how nearly-unfathomable geopolitical events 
of the twentieth  century came together and have brought us to where we are 
Okay, I get all that.  But then my question is  this:
If this is how politics works, and if people like HItler  and McCarthy can 
amass power and distort information and ruin and/or end lives  and so many 
people are not paying attention until it is too late, then I need to  ask 
where the hell are all the hundreds? thousands? of atomic bombs  that were 
amassed by a bunch of countries during the tensions heightened by  McCarthy and 
his ilk and who the hell are the potential Hitlers and  McCarthys who are 
holding the keys to their ignition this very  minute?
Yes, despite the author's optimistic epilogue about the  unlikely 
possibility of another McCarthy in America, THE RISE AND FALL OF  SENATOR JOE 
MCCARTHY left me feeling somewhat bleak and pessimistic about  the ability of 
humanity to see past the perverted, simplistic, and  hateful messages that 
demagogues and megalomaniacs continue to feed  the world's masses who continue to 
fall, it seems, so consistently for the  handshake and the postcard.  I'd 
love to think that Joe McCarthy was a  one-of-a-kind guy.  But you just read 
here what Barry Goldwater read into  the Congressional Record when McCarthy 
died at 48 about how McCarthy made  America a "brighter, safer, more vigilant 
land," the same kind of stuff I heard  when Ronald Reagan just 
start worrying that that this nonsense  will go on to the to the to the other...or  at least until one of these 
self-deluded, power-lusting idiots somewhere in  the world finally decides to 
ignite a couple of those nuclear  weapons.
Despite the fact that Hitler killed millions and McCarthy  didn't, I still 
believe that, if anything, THE RISE AND FALL OF  SENATOR JOE MCCARTHY is an 
even more essential read than is Giblin's Sibert  Medal-winning THE LIFE AND 
DEATH OF ADOLF HITLER.  This is  unquestionably the most important and 
thought-provoking piece of nonfiction  for young people that I have read so far 
this year.
Joe McCarthy lived an interesting and colorful life from  day one.  He was 
a hustler.  A successful student but not a  gifted one, he quit school after 
eighth grade and became a very successful  teen entrepreneur.  At 20 he 
decided to enroll in high school  and then completed four years of study in 
nine months before  headed off to college and becoming a lawyer.  
McCarthy was a gambler who loved to put all his  chips on a hopeless hand 
with an improbable bluff.  He would end up winning  lots of those hands and 
never forgot that lesson.  He was a hard drinker  who liked to be seen with 
good-looking woman and didn't marry until 44  -- just months before his 
personal house of cards began to  fall and just four years before his death from 
cirrhosis of the  liver.  
His rise was meteoric based on an issue for which he had  passion seemingly 
only because it helped him gain  power.    
"Once again, as Joe was quick to note, the response revealed  that the 
media were more interested in his accusations than in their  accuracy.
"Joe reached another conclusion in the wake of the Cedric  Parker affair: 
If charges of disloyalty and subversion could get so much  attention, most of 
it favorable, why not make more of them?  On November  11, 1949, in a 
speech to the Shriners Club in Madison, he roused the crowd when  he said, 'We 
cannot blind our eyes to the fact that we are engaged in a showdown  fight...a 
final, all-out battle between Communist atheism and Christian  democracy.'"
Joe McCarthy was a liar and a bully and a cheater, a guy who  just made it 
all up as he went along.  He lied about his military service  record and 
bluffed his way through his career as Senator in  Washington, D.C. when he 
challenged anyone -- including the president -- who he  suspected of getting in 
his way.  But, as they say, what goes up must come  down, and Ike eventually 
ran out of patience with McCarthy's increasingly  outrageous accusations 
and demands.    
"President Eisenhower was stunned when told of McCarthy's  diatribe.  
According to Jim Hagerty, he paced back and forth in the Oval  Office as he tried 
to put his thoughts and feelings into words.  'This  amounts to nothing but 
a wholesale subversion of public services,' the president  said.  'McCarthy 
is making exactly the same plea of loyalty that Hitler  made to the German 
people.  Both tried to set up personal loyalty within  the government while 
both were using the pretense of fighting  Communism.
"'McCarthy is trying deliberately to subvert people we have in  government, 
people who are sworn to obey the law, the Constitution, and their  superior 
officers.  I think this is the most disloyal act we have ever had  by 
anyone in the government of the United States.'"
Joe McCarthy spent time wielding what was at one  point arguably the most 
power of anyone in the  world.  One hundred years after his birth, the  whole 
world is a far more dangerous place for having had Joe McCarthy  in it for 
48 years.  THE RISE AND FALL OF SENATOR JOE  MCCARTHY shows in fascinating 
and harrowing detail why this is the  case.

Richie  Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks _ 
Moderator, _ 
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