A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father PDF Book by David Maraniss PDF ePub

A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father

by David Maraniss
3.85 • 201 votes • 50 reviews
Published 14 May 2019
A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father.pdf
Format Hardcover
Publisher Simon Schuster
ISBN 1501178377

A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father Ebook Description

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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.

A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father Reviews

- Whittier, CA
Sun, 05 May 2019

“Are you now or have you ever been . . . ? The assumption was that a party member was indisputably unpatriotically un-American.” (p. 6).
Something about the writing of David Maraniss’s family memoir, A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father made it somewhat difficult for me to read. That said, the close-in perspective of the fear and paranoia wrought by the House Un-American Activities Committee [HUAC] (the name, itself, sounds so un-American) hearings of the late 40s, early 50s makes it a very worthy read. The very interesting background, anecdotes, people, places and events peppered throughout this story are frosting on the cake.
Recommendation: Highly recommended for anyone interested in the McCarthy Era; or who appreciates how quickly and easily things can go so very far south in the political arena.
“The committee is so poisoned with bigotry and malice that it is hard indeed to believe that it is indeed a committee of the Congress of the United States. It more resembles a session of the Spanish Inquisition or the witch-hunting trials in Salem in the late Seventeenth Century.” (p. 290).
Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition. 471 pages

- Denver, CO
Mon, 12 Aug 2019

The author traces the history of his parents and his mother's extended family through the second half of the 20th century. But there is much here which rang true to me - in the light of our 21st century politics.
What is an American? What does it mean to label someone "UnAmerican?" Answering these questions means looking beyond attendance at a meeting; beyond friendships and employers; beyond surface features - it means looking deeper, listening, searching. Far too often those who captured the headlines in the 1950's did none of those things. They boiled patriotism down to one yes or no question. When those in the witness box could not or would not answer in simplistic yes or no fashion, those in the headlines branded them as unAmerican. Some of those witnesses and some of their attorneys went to prison. Others, like the author's father were left with no job, no home, wives and children to feed and nurture.
I haven't been able to make it through many of the recently published books about the present day White House. Call it compassion fatigue, or inertia, or simple self preservation. I don't have a word for it. But this book held my attention and I saw much in it which spoke to our present day.
I remembered my younger self in the 1960's - the Vietnam era and the Watergate upheaval of the early 1970's. I remembered how I felt then. What it was like to have my love of country challenged because I could not, or would not, toe some imaginary super patriot line. Because I could not, or would not refrain from disagreeing with the country's leadership. It was painful then, and it's painful now.
I admire the author's father - who never swerved from living out his patriotic dedication which varied so sharply from those who commanded the headlines. To quote the author, speaking of his parents: "[They] were not perfect, but they created a good American family. They emerged from hard times bonded by love and open to the world"
If only people like that were running things now.

- The United States
Thu, 09 May 2019

A Good American Family is biographer David Maraniss’ look at a subject very close to his heart: his father, and the Red Scare and resulting blacklisting that embroiled the family in 1952 because of Elliott Maraniss’ past as a Communist Party of America member. Perhaps because of the lack of distance that the author’s intimacy with his father inevitably leads to, Elliott Maraniss never emerged for me as a fully developed character—his motivations and inner life remained a bit murky throughout. This wasn’t as problematic as it would seem, however, because Elliott’s story is woven into the rich tapestry of American life in the first half of the 20th century—Jim Crow laws, lynchings and civil rights struggles in the South; World War I and the Great Depression; the Spanish Civil War and the idealistic Americans who slipped into Spain to fight Franco; isolationism and then World War II; and finally the Cold War—and threaded through with the stories of many fascinating Americans. (I particularly enjoyed the parts involving Arthur Miller, who was a fellow graduate of Elliott’s NYC high school and went on to become his colleague at the University of Michigan Daily News during the heady political days of the 1930s.) These stories were the lifeblood of the book, giving me background and insight into events I had only a cursory understanding of before (such as American involvement in the Spanish Civil War) and making A Good American Family well worth the read.
Thanks you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for providing me with an ARC of this title in exchange for my honest review.

- The United States
Wed, 17 Jul 2019

This was very good! There's a section in the middle that's strictly about the politicians instead of the Maraniss/Cummins families that I thought dragged, though I understood why it was there. The McCarthy era has always interested me, and the personalization of it here really drove home how people could get caught up in it. The way the author tries to understand his father's choices--because he was a communist, he wasn't falsely named--was really powerful. Would recommend, along with Maraniss's other work.

- South Lyon, MI
Wed, 05 Jun 2019

The USA, the land of the free. How free are we? The author tells us about his father's experiences with the HUAC (House Unamerican Activities Committee) in Detroit and how he was fired and forced to move all over because of the committee's actions. The McCarthy Era is only one of many times that the American Dream was sorely tested and civil liberties were taken away. Despite his father's devotion to his country and service in WWII, he was closely watched by the FBI, informed on and called in front of the committee. This book makes it very clear how easy it is to lose our basic rights. Other examples are the WWII Japanese internment camps, the treatment of blacks, LGBT people and immigrants throughout our history and many examples running rampant in today's America. Though the McCarthy Era and the Red Scare may be over, we must be aware and not naive about the ongoing struggle to protect the freedom of all.