Shooting Star: Book summary and reviews of Shooting Star by Tom Wicker

Shooting Star

The Brief Arc of Joseph McCarthy

by Tom Wicker

Shooting Star by Tom Wicker

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Book Summary

Journalist Tom Wicker examines McCarthy's ambition and record, attempting to discover the motivation for his demagoguery. Joe McCarthy first became visible to the nation on February 9, 1950, when he delivered a Lincoln Day address to local Republicans in Wheeling, West Virginia. That night he declared, "I have here in my hand a list of 205 [members of the Communist Party] still working and shaping policy in the State Department." Anticommunism was already a cause embraced by the Republican Party as a whole; McCarthy tapped into this current and turned it into a flood. Little more than five years later, after countless hearings and stormy speeches and after incalculable damage to ordinary Americans and the nation itself, McCarthy's Senate colleagues voted sixty-seven to twenty-two to censure him for his reckless accusations and fabrications. We know today that not one prosecution resulted from McCarthy's investigations into communists in the U.S. government.

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Media Reviews

"Although Wicker's take on McCarthy isn't groundbreaking, he combines insightful political history with a deft character study to craft a wonderful introduction to this crucial American figure." - PW.
"A crisp portrait that adds to a broader understanding of the use of fear as an enduring political stratagem." - Kirkus.
"Written with brevity and clarity, Wicker's study is less substantial than works by Reeves and others; an optional purchase for public libraries and undergraduate collections." - Library Journal.

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