IN THIS SWEEPING, monumental work of American history,journalist Michael J. Ybarra tells the story of Senator PatMcCarran's extraordinary career for the first time, and he vividlyre-creates a passionate era of politics that reshaped America andechoes to this day. Brilliantly researched and energeticallywritten, Washington Gone Crazy makes a significant newcontribution to our understanding of the United States in thetwentieth century.McCarran was one of the most shrewd and powerful andvindictive lawmakers ever to sit in Congress. Joe McCarthygave his name to the cause of zealous anti-Communism, but itwas McCarran, a lifelong Democrat, who actually wrote the laws,held the hearings, and bullied the State and Justice Departmentsinto doing his bidding. McCarran was consumed with looking forCommunists in Washington and his obsession almost consumedthe country.The son of illiterate Irish immigrants, McCarran was born in 1876in Nevada, where he grew up to be a sheepherder who taughthimself the law around the campfire, becoming a legendarydefense attorney and judge. After struggling for years against thelocal Democratic political machine, McCarran rode FranklinRoosevelt's landslide into the U.S. Senate in 1932 and brokeranks with Roosevelt during the New Deal's first week. But it wasPresident Harry Truman who would become McCarran's realnemesis. A master of parliamentary procedure, McCarran turnedhis Senate Judiciary Committee into a virtual government withinthe government. McCarran worked with J. Edgar Hoover toundermine the Truman Administration before McCarthy even gotto Washington. He created the most far-reaching anti-sedition lawever enacted in America (the McCarran Internal Security Act),which filled Ellis Island with immigrants alleged to be subversivesand set up concentration camps to hold suspected traitors in thecase of a national emergency. McCarran's Senate Internal SecuritySubcommittee cowed the State Department into sacrificing thecareers of diplomats accused of helping the Communists take overChina. McCarran virtually blackmailed more than one attorneygeneral into carrying out his policies. From Capitol Hill to theUnited Nations, from union halls to Hollywood, McCarran's wrathbroke careers and lives and ultimately, in a self-destructive fit ofpique, cost his party control of the Senate. Ybarra's even-handednarrative shows that McCarran was ultimately half right: Therereally were Communists in Washington but it was the hunt forthem that did the real damage.Featuring a new introduction by Sam Tanenhaus.
Washington Gone Crazy
Senator Pat McCarran and the Great American Communist Hunt