McCarthyism: How one grifter still poisons America
What are the real stories behind the most misunderstood ideas in politics? Ian Dunt and Dorian Lynskey explore the histories of concepts you thought you knew. In this first episode: McCarthyism. Was it really a crusade against communists or just a grifter’s opportunity that got out of hand? How did a witch-hunt morph into a way to denounce any critic, no matter who? And did Joe McCarthy really write the rulebook for Trumpism?
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McCarthyism: A Reading List
Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy by Larry Tye. Dense, but readable and very thorough account of McCarthy's life. Tye is perhaps a little too fair to his subject, but he paints a full portrait.
High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic by Glenn Frankel. Beautiful biography of the film, in which the subject matter and the background oppression go hand-in-hand. Film criticism as political science.
A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy by David A Oshinsky. The classic McCarthy biography, full of anecdotes and ideas. Fun fact: this is one of the books that inspired REM’s ‘Exhuming McCarthy’.
Reds by Ted Morgan. An exhaustive account of various Red Scares and what McCarthyism meant beyond McCarthy himself. Particularly good on the importance of the Venona intercepts.
Trumbo by Bruce Cook. Terrifically vivid biography of Dalton Trumbo with much to say about the Hollywood blacklist in general. Much better than the movie.
The Crucible by Arthur Miller. The essential contemporary allegory.
• “In a way, McCarthyism is actually the origin story of Donald Trump.” – Ian Dunt
• "If you say it loudly and aggressively enough, it becomes the truth.” – Peter Fraser
• “The victims were the people who are always victims in moments of national paranoia: gay people, Jews, free thinkers and liberals.” – Ian Dunt
• “McCarthy hacked the media… It was as if a restaurant served poisoned food and it was up to the diner to refuse it.” – Dorian Lynskey
Written and presented by Dorian Lynskey and Ian Dunt. Audio production by Jade Bailey and Alex Rees. Music by Jade Bailey. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison. Origin Story is a Podmasters production.