The Politics of Fear: Joseph R. McCarthy and the Senate

The Politics of Fear: Joseph R. McCarthy and the Senate

The Politics of Fear: Joseph R. McCarthy and the Senate

The Politics of Fear: Joseph R. McCarthy and the Senate

Excerpt

I completed the first draft of The Politics of Fear twenty years ago as a doctoral dissertation at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. At the time, Americans were in the midst of a great debate, not just over Vietnam and the Cold War, but over the very character of American politics and society as well. One important part of that debate, though I did not then fully understand it, was the attempt by historians like myself to rethink the postwar politics of anti-communism--to reexamine the rise of the Cold War, the emergence of Joe McCarthy, and the impact of what came to be called "McCarthyism" on American politics and culture. The world, of course, has changed a lot since then; certainly I have. I know, or at least hope I know, a great deal more than I did then. Nevertheless, I have resisted the temptation to rewrite the book or tailor it to current intellectual fashions. In part, this is because of the immodest notion that, two decades later, it still stands up fairly well. In part, too, it is because like other artifacts of the past it possesses a sort of integrity that ought to be respected, even by its author. What I would like to do instead is to discuss some of the many books on the politics of anti-communism that have appeared since 1967, and to suggest how they have affected my own thinking about McCarthy and McCarthyism.

In 1967, most accounts of McCarthy and McCarthyism were . . .

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