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The Age of Anxiety

Cover of The Age of Anxiety

The Age of Anxiety

McCarthyism to Terrorism
Borrow Borrow

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist revisits the anti-communist hysteria of the McCarthy era and draws bold parallels to our own Age of Anxiety.

For five long years in the 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy and his anti-communist crusade dominated the American scene, terrified politicians, and destroyed the lives of thousands of our citizens. Haynes Johnson re-creates that time of crisis—of President Eisenhower, who hated McCarthy but would not attack him; of the Republican senators who cynically used McCarthy to win their own elections; of Edward R. Murrow, whose courageous TV broadcast began McCarthy’s downfall; and of mild-mannered lawyer Joseph Welch, who finally shamed McCarthy into silence.

The story is told through the lens of its relevance to our own times, when fear once again affects American behavior and attitudes. His masterful narrative also encompasses the story of his father, journalist Malcolm Johnson, whose articles on terrorism and murder led to the movie On the Waterfront—and whose life was forever changed by charges that he was a communist.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist revisits the anti-communist hysteria of the McCarthy era and draws bold parallels to our own Age of Anxiety.

For five long years in the 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy and his anti-communist crusade dominated the American scene, terrified politicians, and destroyed the lives of thousands of our citizens. Haynes Johnson re-creates that time of crisis—of President Eisenhower, who hated McCarthy but would not attack him; of the Republican senators who cynically used McCarthy to win their own elections; of Edward R. Murrow, whose courageous TV broadcast began McCarthy’s downfall; and of mild-mannered lawyer Joseph Welch, who finally shamed McCarthy into silence.

The story is told through the lens of its relevance to our own times, when fear once again affects American behavior and attitudes. His masterful narrative also encompasses the story of his father, journalist Malcolm Johnson, whose articles on terrorism and murder led to the movie On the Waterfront—and whose life was forever changed by charges that he was a communist.

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About the Author-
  • Haynes Johnson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a long-time television commentator, and the author of the bestsellers SLEEPWALKING THROUGH HISTORY and THE BAY OF PIGS. He teaches at the University of Maryland.

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Anxious could easily describe the narrator when approaching this thorough and heavy text, which draws parallels between McCarthyism and post-9/11 terror-mongering by government officials. But if Kristoffer Tabori was anxious at all, he certainly doesn't show it. Managing that elusive skill of turning facts into storytelling, Tabori breathes energy into a book that might otherwise leave listeners nodding off. Most of the material focuses on McCarthyism; the last quarter points to the current political stage. Though fascinating, such a historical account could be overwhelming without an engaging narrator like Tabori, who keeps a steady pace, delivers distinct quotations, and adjusts the emphasis of his words according to the demands of the book. L.E. (c) AudioFile 2006, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 25, 2005
    Pulitzer-winning journalist Johnson (The Best of Times
    ) offers an engrossing account of the career of red-baiting demagogue Joseph McCarthy and a chilling description of his legacy for today. The focus is on the disturbing questions raised by McCarthyism: how could a little-known freshman senator, driven by Cold War paranoia, quickly amass the power to intimidate senior colleagues, bully the media, terrorize innocent citizens and even threaten two respected presidents? Why did fellow Republicans not reject his sleazy, dishonest tactics when they were personally revolted by them? Most urgently, are we seeing the birth of a new "age of anxiety," in which terrorism replaces communism as the bogeyman? Johnson's answer is clearly yes. He traces the current climate in Washington directly to the 1950s: "McCarthyism was a major factor in the rise of the radical Right and the polarization that plagues American life, pitting group against group and region against region, sowing cynicism and distrust, and manipulating public opinion through fear and smear." He reviews recent events, including the use of the Patriot Act to stifle dissent, the abuse and detention of thousands of American Muslims guilty of no crime, and politicians' readiness to impugn the patriotism of opponents without evidence. Johnson's own critique is not ideological; rather, his most important argument may be that ideological polarization continues to prevent us from rationally assessing and dealing with real threats. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, Philippa Brophy.

  • --Jim Lehrer

    “Haynes Johnson is the very best at what he does. Nobody matches him for bringing the laser light of a brilliant reporter’s eye and wisdom to a period of recent history.”

  • --AudioFile

    "Managing that elusive skill of turning facts into storytelling, Tabori breathes energy into [this book]."

  • --Midwest Book Review

    "A timely story comes alive in audio."

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