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372 pages, Kindle Edition
First published May 8, 2018
When he read coverage he disliked, McCarthy did not keep quiet—he went on the offenseive, singling out specific publications and particular journalists, sometimes at rallies. He particularly hated “The Milwaukee Journal.” . . . To a “Journal” reporter, McCarthy confided: “Off the record, I don’t know that I can cut [the “Journal”’s] profits at all . . . . But if you show a newspaper as unfriendly and having a reason for being antagonistic, you can take the sting out of what it says about you. I think I can convince a lot of people that they can’t believe what they read in the “Journal.”George Wallace and his crowds:
Wallace brought something intriguing to the modern politics of fear in America: a visceral connection to his crowds, an appeal that confounded elites but gave him a durable base. [He] was “simply more alive than all the others,” a female journalist told the writer Marshall Frady. . . . “You saw those people in that auditorium when he was speaking—you saw their eyes. He made those people feel something real for once in their lives. . . . I couldn’t take my eyes off him, there were all those people screaming. You almost love him, though you know what a little gremlin he actually is.”Perhaps the best thing about The Soul of America is the way it communicates the character of the person who wrote it, for Jon Meacham himself is an inspiration. Although he is a scholar and a citizen dismayed by recent events, he is also a resilient man who chooses to hope and to act. And because he is a scholar, he finds ample evidence for his hope in the deeds of brave Americans, both in its leaders—Lincoln, the two Roosevelts, FDR, Truman, LBJ—and in the gadflies and agitators who kept those leaders honest: Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Dubois, Alice Paul, Eugene Debs, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Chase Smith, John Lewis, Martin Luther King. Meacham sums it up best himself:
For all of our darker impulses, for all of our shortcomings, and for all of the dreams denied and deferred, the experiment begun so long ago, carried out so imperfectly, is worth the fight. There is, in fact, no struggle more important, and none nobler, than the one we wage in the service of those better angels who, however besieged, are always ready for battle.