A Good American Family: Book summary and reviews of A Good American Family by David Maraniss

A Good American Family

The Red Scare and My Father

by David Maraniss

A Good American Family by David Maraniss X
A Good American Family by David Maraniss
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  • Published in USA  May 2019
    416 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

In a riveting book with powerful resonance today, Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss captures the pervasive fear and paranoia that gripped America during the Red Scare of the 1950s through the chilling yet affirming story of his family's ordeal, from blacklisting to vindication.

Elliott Maraniss, David's father, a WWII veteran who had commanded an all-black company in the Pacific, was spied on by the FBI, named as a communist by an informant, called before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1952, fired from his newspaper job, and blacklisted for five years. Yet he never lost faith in America and emerged on the other side with his family and optimism intact.

In a sweeping drama that moves from the Depression and Spanish Civil War to the HUAC hearings and end of the McCarthy era, Maraniss weaves his father's story through the lives of his inquisitors and defenders as they struggle with the vital twentieth-century issues of race, fascism, communism, and first amendment freedoms. A Good American Family powerfully evokes the political dysfunctions of the 1950s while underscoring what it really means to be an American. It is an unsparing yet moving tribute from a brilliant writer to his father and the family he protected in dangerous times.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Clear-eyed and empathetic, Maraniss's engrossing portrait of a patriotic, baseball-loving red reveals the complex human motivations underneath the era's clashing dogmas." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Audiences interested in the domestic implications of the Cold War will be captivated by this journalist whose patriotism was measured by actions and not exaggerated by words." - Library Journal (starred review)

"A clear eyed, highly personal view of a dark chapter in American history." - Kirkus Reviews

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Author Information

David Maraniss Author Biography

Author photograph by Lisa Berg

David Maraniss is an associate editor at The Washington Post and a distinguished visiting professor at Vanderbilt University. He has won two Pulitzer Prizes for journalism and was a finalist three other times. Among his bestselling books are biographies of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Roberto Clemente, and Vince Lombardi, and a trilogy about the 1960s – Rome 1960; Once in a Great City (winner of the RFK Book Prize); and They Marched into Sunlight (winner of the J. Anthony Lucas Prize and Pulitzer Finalist in History). A Good American Family is his twelfth book.

Author Interview
Link to David Maraniss's Website

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