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A good American family : the Red Scare and my father

by Maraniss, David,

Format: Print Book 2019.
Availability: Available at 3 Libraries 3 of 11 copies
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CLP - Allegheny Regional New Books E743.5.M36 2019
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CLP - Main Library First Floor - New Non-fiction E743.5.M36 2019
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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.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Maraniss (Once in a Great City, 2015) paints an affecting if somewhat scattershot portrait of his father, Elliott, a dedicated journalist and political liberal who ran afoul of the House Un-American Activities Committee despite upstanding middle-class bona fides and a stellar war record. The younger Maraniss' affection and admiration for his father are palpable, though tinged with queasiness over what he perceives as naïveté regarding the Soviet system. Elliott comes across as a decent man woefully unprepared for the hysteria of Senator McCarthy and the Red Scare, who stubbornly believed that the American system would vindicate him. It did, after years of spotty employment, constant family moves, and a shattered reputation. Maraniss falls into a common trap of family biographers. He both over- and underestimates his father. It would also have been good to learn more about how Maraniss' mother coped with raising a family despite constant upheaval. Overall, this is a beautifully realized account of an ordinary family in extraordinary circumstances and of how easily normal life can be disrupted by a powerful megalomaniac with a dangerous political agenda.--Lesley Williams Copyright 2019 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Communism was as American as apple pie, according to this searching account of a family's Cold War ideological journey. Pulitzer-winning Washington Post editor Maraniss (Barack Obama) recounts his father Elliott's 1952 testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he took the Fifth to duck questions about his past membership in the Communist Party but offered an impassioned defense of his constitutional rights; he was fired from his job at a Detroit newspaper and blacklisted for several years. Drawing on Elliott's essays, letters, and FBI files, Maraniss explores his family history-his uncle, who fought in the Spanish Civil War, and mother were also Communists-to show how politics molded individual lives as his father evolved from a left-wing student journalist, idealistic but subservient to the Stalinist party line, to an officer who fought racism in the army in WWII, to a rueful ex-communist liberal who voted for Eisenhower. Maraniss also weaves in insightful studies of other figures in the post-war Red Scare, including his father's African-American attorney George Crockett, who defended communists as allies against Jim Crow, and the grandmotherly FBI informant who denounced Elliott. 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. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Maraniss, David -- Family.
Maraniss, Elliott, -- 1918-2004.
United States. -- Congress. -- House. -- Committee on Un-American Activities.
Anti-communist movements -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
United States -- Politics and government -- 1945-1953.
Publisher New York :2019.
Edition First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition.
Language English
Description 416 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 9781501178375
1501178377
Other Classic View