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In the long history of American demagogues, from Huey Long to Donald Trump, never has one man caused so much damage in such a short time as Senator Joseph McCarthy. We still use “McCarthyism” to stand for outrageous charges of guilt by association, a weapon of polarizing slander. From 1950 to 1954, McCarthy destroyed many careers and even entire lives, whipping the nation into a frenzy of paranoia, accusation, loyalty oaths, and terror. When the public finally turned on him, he came crashing down, dying of alcoholism in 1957. Only now, through bestselling author Larry Tye’s exclusive look at the senator’s records, can the full story be told.
Demagogue is a masterful portrait of a human being capable of immense evil, yet beguiling charm. McCarthy was a tireless worker and a genuine war hero. His ambitions knew few limits. Neither did his socializing, his drinking, nor his gambling. When he finally made it to the Senate, he flailed around in search of an agenda and angered many with his sharp elbows and lack of integrity. Finally, after three years, he hit upon anti-communism. By recklessly charging treason against everyone from George Marshall to much of the State Department, he became the most influential and controversial man in America. His chaotic, meteoric rise is a gripping and terrifying object lesson for us all. Yet his equally sudden fall from fame offers reason for hope that, given the rope, most American demagogues eventually hang themselves.
Through dogged research and extensive interviews, award-winning author and journalist Larry Tye has tracked down the truth about this majestic and enigmatic pitcher. Here is the stirring account of the child born to a poor Alabama washerwoman, the boy who earned his nickname from his enterprising work as a railroad porter, and the young man who took up baseball on the streets and in reform school before becoming the superstar hurler of the Negro Leagues.
In unprecedented detail, Tye reveals how Paige, hurt and angry when Jackie Robinson beat him in breaking the Majors’ color barrier, emerged at the improbable age of forty-two to help propel the Cleveland Indians to the World Series. (“Age is a case of mind over matter,” he said. “If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”)
Rewriting our history of baseball’s integration with Paige in the starring role and separating truth from legend, Satchel is a story as large as this larger-than-life man.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Soon to be a Hulu original series starring Chris Pine. Larry Tye appears on CNN’s American Dynasties: The Kennedys.
“We are in Larry Tye’s debt for bringing back to life the young presidential candidate who . . . almost half a century ago, instilled hope for the future in angry, fearful Americans.”—David Nasaw, The New York Times Book Review
Bare-knuckle operative, cynical White House insider, romantic visionary—Robert F. Kennedy was all of these things at one time or another, and each of these aspects of his personality emerges in the pages of this powerful and perceptive biography.
History remembers RFK as a racial healer, a tribune for the poor, and the last progressive knight of a bygone era of American politics. But Kennedy’s enshrinement in the liberal pantheon was actually the final stage of a journey that began with his service as counsel to the red-baiting senator Joseph McCarthy. In Bobby Kennedy, Larry Tye peels away layers of myth and misconception to capture the full arc of his subject’s life. Tye draws on unpublished memoirs, unreleased government files, and fifty-eight boxes of papers that had been under lock and key for forty years. He conducted hundreds of interviews with RFK intimates, many of whom have never spoken publicly, including Bobby’s widow, Ethel, and his sister, Jean. Tye’s determination to sift through the tangle of often contradictory opinions means that Bobby Kennedy will stand as the definitive biography about the most complex and controversial member of the Kennedy family.
Praise for Bobby Kennedy
“A compelling story of how idealism can be cultivated and liberalism learned . . . Tye does an exemplary job of capturing not just the chronology of Bobby’s life, but also the sense of him as a person.”—Los Angeles Review of Books
“Captures RFK’s rise and fall with straightforward prose bolstered by impressive research.”—USA Today
“[Tye] has a keen gift for narrative storytelling and an ability to depict his subject with almost novelistic emotional detail.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Nuanced and thorough . . . [RFK’s] vision echoes through the decades.”—The Economist
An engaging social history that reveals the critical role Pullman porters played in the struggle for African American civil rights
When George Pullman began recruiting Southern blacks as porters in his luxurious new sleeping cars, the former slaves suffering under Jim Crow laws found his offer of a steady job and worldly experience irresistible. They quickly signed up to serve as maid, waiter, concierge, nanny, and occasionally doctor and undertaker to cars full of white passengers, making the Pullman Company the largest employer of African American men in the country by the 1920s.
In the world of the Pullman sleeping car, where whites and blacks lived in close proximity, porters developed a unique culture marked by idiosyncratic language, railroad lore, and shared experience. They called difficult passengers "Mister Charlie"; exchanged stories about Daddy Jim, the legendary first Pullman porter; and learned to distinguish generous tippers such as Humphrey Bogart from skinflints like Babe Ruth. At the same time, they played important social, political, and economic roles, carrying jazz and blues to outlying areas, forming America's first black trade union, and acting as forerunners of the modern black middle class by virtue of their social position and income.
Drawing on extensive interviews with dozens of porters and their descendants, Larry Tye reconstructs the complicated world of the Pullman porter and the vital cultural, political, and economic roles they played as forerunners of the modern black middle class. Rising from the Rails provides a lively and enlightening look at this important social phenomenon.
Through Kitty Dukakis's moving narrative, and interviews with more than one hundred other ECT patients, Shock: The Healing Power of Electroconvulsive Therapy separates scare from promise, real complications from lurid headlines. In the process Shock offers practical guidance to prospective patients and their families, boldly addressing the controversy surrounding ECT and awakening millions to its capacity to heal.
The Father of Spin is the first full-length biography of the legendary Edward L. Bernays, who, beginning in the 1920s, was one of the first and most successful practioners of the art of public relations. In this engrossing biography, Larry Tye uses Bernays's life as a prism to understand the evolution of the craft of public relations and how it came to play such a critical-and sometimes insidious-role in American life.
Drawing on interviews with primary sources and voluminous private papers, Tye presents a fascinating and revealing portrait of the man who, more than any other, defined and personified public relations, a profession that today helps shape our political discourse and define our commercial choices.
Legions of fans from Boston to Buenos Aires can recite the story of the child born Kal-El, scion of the doomed planet Krypton, who was rocketed to Earth as an infant, raised by humble Kansas farmers, and rechristened Clark Kent. Known to law-abiders and evildoers alike as Superman, he was destined to become the invincible champion of all that is good and just—and a star in every medium from comic books and comic strips to radio, TV, and film.
But behind the high-flying legend lies a true-to-life saga every bit as compelling, one that begins not in the far reaches of outer space but in the middle of America’s heartland. During the depths of the Great Depression, Jerry Siegel was a shy, awkward teenager in Cleveland. Raised on adventure tales and robbed of his father at a young age, Jerry dreamed of a hero for a boy and a world that desperately needed one. Together with neighborhood chum and kindred spirit Joe Shuster, young Siegel conjured a human-sized god who was everything his creators yearned to be: handsome, stalwart, and brave, able to protect the innocent, punish the wicked, save the day, and win the girl. It was on Superman’s muscle-bound back that the comic book and the very idea of the superhero took flight.
Tye chronicles the adventures of the men and women who kept Siegel and Shuster’s “Man of Tomorrow” aloft and vitally alive through seven decades and counting. Here are the savvy publishers and visionary writers and artists of comics’ Golden Age who ushered the red-and-blue-clad titan through changing eras and evolving incarnations; and the actors—including George Reeves and Christopher Reeve—who brought the Man of Steel to life on screen, only to succumb themselves to all-too-human tragedy in the mortal world. Here too is the poignant and compelling history of Siegel and Shuster’s lifelong struggle for the recognition and rewards rightly due to the architects of a genuine cultural phenomenon.
From two-fisted crimebuster to über-patriot, social crusader to spiritual savior, Superman—perhaps like no other mythical character before or since—has evolved in a way that offers a Rorschach test of his times and our aspirations. In this deftly realized appreciation, Larry Tye reveals a portrait of America over seventy years through the lens of that otherworldly hero who continues to embody our best selves.
Praise for Superman
“Engaging, fun, inspiring—like the Man of Steel.”—The Huffington Post
“Powerful . . . wonderfully readable.”—The Plain Dealer
“A story as American as Superman himself . . . The best origin story pulsing through Superman is not the one about the Krypton-to-Kansas alien baby, but rather the one about the superhero’s mortal and sometimes star-crossed creators.”—The Washington Post
“Fun, enlightening pop-cultural history.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A rich history full of lively heroes and villains‚ much like a comic book. Essential for Superman fans.
The idea for this book came to Larry Tye as he traveled overseas as a reporter for the Boston Globe. In each city he visited he was intrigued by a reawakening of practice and spirit of the long repressed Jewish community. And the more communities he saw close-up, the clearer it became to him that the Jewish world was being reshaped and revitalized in ways that were not reflected in what he was reading about the disappearing diaspora and the vanishing Jews of America.
The result is Home Lands, an narrative that tells the story of the new Jewish diaspora. Tye picked seven Jewish communities from Boston to Buenos Aires and Dusseldorf to Dnepropetrovsk deep in the Ukraine, and in each he zeroes in on a single family or congregation whose tale reflects the wider community's history and current situation. He met each community's leaders, talked with their scores of young people and old, and went with them to High Holiday services and Sabbath celebrations.
The first impression that emerges from his travels is each city's uniqueness. Far more striking than the differences, however, is the unity. Jews all over the world still have enough customs and rituals in common for outsiders to see them as part of the same people, and for them to define themselves that way. It is that new comfort level, that sense of finally feel comfortable in the lands where they are living, that is at the heart of this engrossing book. Readers' eyes will be opened to how Germany, just a generation after the genocide, has the world's fastest-growing Jewish population; how the Jews of Buenos Aires have carved a place for themselves in a land that also gave refuge to Nazi henchmen like Adolph Eichman, and how Ireland is home to a tight-knit Jewish community that, remarkably, has produced Jewish Lord Mayors in Belfast, Cork and, twice from the same family, in Dublin. In Boston, Tye tells the story of his own family, whose roots run deep in the city's Jewish community.
Home Lands is a book that is deeply personal even as it sheds light on the larger Jewish experience.