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The Age of Anxiety: McCarthyism to Terrorism

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  108 ratings  ·  20 reviews
For five long years in the 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist crusade dominated the American scene, terrified politicians, and destroyed the lives of thousands of U.S. citizens.In The Age of Anxiety, now updated with a new afterword, Johnson tells this monumental story through the lens of its relevance to our own time, when the current administration has creat ...more
Paperback, 672 pages
Published October 9th 2006 by Mariner Books (first published 2005)
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There are probably lots of lessons to learn from this book, but the problem is, it's too late to learn them as per the post-9/11 culture and the Bush campaign of 2004. The problem is, Johnson doesn't convince when he ties McCarthyism to today's "you're either with America or for the terrorists" mentality. He more or less juxtaposes them and draws some interesting parallels (did you know Prescott Bush, Dubya's grandfather, spoke out against McCarthy after the Army hearings? neither did I. Fucking ...more
Dec 19, 2008 Ilze rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: history buffs, politcal buffs,
The premise of this book is flawed, but reading it is still worthwhile. It tells in a detailed, yet riveting way the story of Joseph McCarthy, a vicious drunken power-mad schemer who managed to hold America spellbound with fear of communist infiltration. It is chilling how no one, even President Eisenhower himself, would risk standing up to this man. The book also tells of Roy Cohn, a lawyer whose efforts to obtain special treatment for one of his friends in the Army eventually played a hand in ...more
Once I got into this book... I really got into it.

The vast majority of pages details the five years that Senator Joseph McCarthy hunted Communists in the government. The final few chapters compare it to the second Bush administration's hunt for terrorists.

Joseph McCarthy seems more three dimensional and real to me now. He really was a different kind of a man - someone who has no desire to be honorable, and is willing to say and do anything in order to win fights and get power.

Haynes did a great
This history of McCarthyism, which is the efforts of Joe McCarthy and his band of zealots to wield power to supposedly end the "threat" of Communism in the American government. This audio book came with 8 disks, and 7 of them were dedicated to the history and the outcome, along with the damage, of McCarthyism. I would have enjoyed hearing this back in the day when I was struggling to understand this attack on Americans by McCarthy.

However - when the final disk tried to compare McCarthy and his
This book is 95% about McCarthyism - and it is a good description of that. I would have given it 4-5 stars if it was billed as a biography of McCarthyism.

It was not so billed, however. The idea that the one chapter at the end, along with the epilogue (the only two post-McCarthy/ism chapters), somehow tells the story of a single age (ignoring the decades that came between McCarthy and Bush II) is not serious. And while parallels certainly exist, Johnson fails to offer any new insights into how o
Jul 13, 2009 Kirsti rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Kristin, Jan McGill, Leah, Jan, Jen
God bless you, Haynes Johnson, for reminding us that McCarthyism can always come back if we're not careful.

I read this sentence--"From then on, McCarthy always referred to the vice president [Richard Nixon:] as 'that prick.'"--and thought, okay, Senator Joseph McCarthy and I agreed on ONE THING.

The parts about recent McCarthyesque events are not as compelling because they don't coalesce around a single power-crazed individual and because there's so much about the recent scandals that is as yet
Haynes Johnson draws striking parallels between the ways in which McCarthyism and Terrorism have sparked anxiety and fear in our country; he describes the highly effective tactics (extremism, divisiveness, bullying, character assassination) used by both McCarthy and George W. Bush and surrogates to serve their own interests and agendas; and he examines and deplores how politicians, the press and the public have succumbed to/been manipulated by these tactics. Johnson argues that we're now living ...more
Not exactly what I predicted when I picked up the book. This was more of an in depth biographical study of Joseph McCarthy, rather than a text drawing connections between McCarthyism and terrorism. As a result, this acted as two separate reads: a dry look at an atrocious Senator, and a quick (100 pages or so) look into the past.

The latter portion of the book was what I was interested in, and I feel that it was extremely well done. Johnson traces our fears of McCarthyism to the decisions that are
non fiction compares Bush's administration with the time of McCarty interesting comparisons and rather scarry when you think how helpless were are and were when there is a mass campaign to smear with fear
I read this book to somewhat form a topic for my National History Day Project this year, which my teacher is requiring to be an American Event. I decided to go somewhere along the lines of the "Communist scare" in the later half of the 20th century, and this book was quite fitting.
Easy to read and understand, the Age of Anxiety was very detailed and engaging upon the principle of McCarthyism, and effectively transports that principle to present day events, particularly terrorism. Haynes Johnson
Scott Burton
If you are ever in the mood to just be mad or skandalized, this is the book for you. After reading this book you'll want to slap someone. I say this not to suggest that the book is not good or is poorly written. I say this to suggest that McCarthy and his "ism" has to be one of the most abominable moments in American History. And, unfortunately, McCarthy couldn't have done what he did if the mood of the American people hadn't been so in harmony with his supposed goals. Whether or not one accepts ...more
I picked this book up thinking that I was not going to like the content due to the subtext on the back and my caution when reading political books... But I am glad I gave it a chance. It makes one ponder over underlying concept of the human race continually making the same blunders no matter how many times people tend to repeat "never again". I never really took into consideration comparing the McCarthy era to the Bush... makes one think about the racial profiling and the inhumane treatment that ...more
If you are expecting to read about the Bush administration, this is not the book for you. Almost the entire book is about McCarthy with a one chapter at the end about the Bush administration. Nonetheless, it is a good read - an example of how fear was used to persuade the general public and how the press wants to report the juiciest stories without first examining their validity. It's scary that a country with free press and free elections can still be persuaded to elect someone like McCarthy.
Almost all of this book is devoted to a rehash of McCarthyism - ground that has been well covered by others. At the very end, the author makes a comparison to the repressive policies of the Bush presidency, such as the Patriot Act, but concedes that McCarthyism was much worse. It almost seems as though Haynes Johnson wrote this book in anger at the Bush Administration, especially given the excellent quality of his other work.
Sierra Wallace
A book on McCarthyism that covers more ground and makes more connections than any other politics/history book I've ever read. The in depth study of historical actions, figures and societal effects was fascinating. It was the perfect summer read.
Rich Martin
Gives historical perspective to what's going on now. The same things that happened in the '50s are happening now.
excellent audio book. listen to this and then watch documentary: 'point of order.' excellent stuff.
A great read, I highly recommend it. However, those that should read it.......probably won't.
Aug 28, 2007 Damian rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those interested in how the current political climate is reflected in the past
Still reading... interesting but hard going
I heard the audio book version.
Crease marked it as to-read
Oct 22, 2015
Lance is currently reading it
Oct 06, 2015
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In his four decades in journalism, Mr. Johnson was widely esteemed for his coverage of domestic affairs in general and of the capital in particular.

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“Joe McCarthy possessed something like a photographic memory—his mind was like a “sponge,” or a “blotter,” his college classmates said—that enabled him to spew forth answers “lightning quick” in cram sessions and on exams. From the beginning of his career, he demonstrated a kind of instinctive political genius that owed nothing to campaign consultants or image makers. He was not interested in ideas, except in appropriating the thoughts or opinions of others if they helped him exploit an issue like Communism. His law degree and native intelligence notwithstanding, he was ill educated, had no sense of history, and was incurious and carelessly ill-informed about the great public questions—again, like Communism—that he addressed with such assurance. He did not read books, with one fascinating exception: Hitler’s Mein Kampf.” 0 likes
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