Reviews

DEMAGOGUE - Released on July 7, 2020

Reviews of DEMAGOGUE

Wall Street JournalDuncan White
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“Larry Tye gives us the fullest account yet of [Joseph McCarthy,] the crusading senator from Wisconsin.” (Full article)
The New YorkerLouis Menand
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""Larry Tye’s purpose in his new biography, “Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), is to make the case that Donald Trump is a twenty-first-century Joe McCarthy … He more than makes the case. The likeness is uncanny." (Full article)
New York TimesJohn Williams
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"'Demagogue' Remembers a Vintage American Bully" (Full article)
LA Review of BooksChristopher Elias
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"Tye has produced a compelling and rich biography that will become the new authoritative text on its subject." (Full article)
Booklist Starred ReviewMary Ann Gwinn
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"Tye brings [McCarthy] back to ferocious life … This is a must-read biography … and every reader will blanch at its events' resemblances to today's fraught political conflicts." (Full article)
Boston GlobeEvan Thomas
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“Tye captures ‘Low Blow Joe’ in all his shambolic ingloriousness … The result is an epic expose that … will leave [readers] shaking their heads over the rise and fall of the greatest demagogue in American history.” (Full article)
Seattle TimesMary Ann Gwinn
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"This book, meticulously documented and written in a brisk, readable style, should be required reading for any student of American history, and general readers will blanch at its parallels with today’s fraught political discourse." (Full article)
Publishers Weekly
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“[A] sure-handed account … searing and informative portrait of [Senator Joseph McCarthy] and his specific brand of self-aggrandizing demagoguery.” (Full article)
Library Journal
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“Written in a straightforward, judicious style … a definitive biography that will stand the test of time.” (Full article)
New York Journal of BooksMike Farris
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“Demagogue is a beautifully written, richly researched tragedy, a morality tale in three acts. In the end, it proves that most demagogues, like the legendary emperor, usually have no clothes. And it’s not a pretty sight to behold.” (Full article)
Kirkus Reviews
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“Meaty narrative … a timely examination of a would-be savior whose name remains a byword for demagoguery.“ (Full article)
Christian Science Monitor Steve Donoghue
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“Tye has researched extensively and consulted more archival material than has been available to any previous McCarthy biographer … ‘Demagogue’ does an impressive job of shedding new light on Joe McCarthy, but the more light is shed, the more repulsive he appears.“ (Full article)
National Book Review
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“In this vivid chronicle of the ascent, reign, and decline of Joseph McCarthy, Tye places the Wisconsin senator in the context of the reflexive anti-intellectualism and anti-elitism of Huey Long and Father Charles Coughlin.“ (Full article)
John Kerry former US Secretary of State
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“Larry Tye’s Demagogue nails the defining biography of Joe McCarthy. I grew up a Cold War kid watching it all on television. I thought I knew it all, but Tye makes it real. To understand Donald Trump, you have to understand Joe McCarthy first, and Tye’s your guide.”
William Cohenformer US Secretary of Defense
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“Tye has written a fabulous, can't-put-down examination of one of the most dangerous politicians in American history. But Demagogue is more than a biography—it's a warning of the peril we are facing.”
Steven Levitskycoauthor of How Democracies Die
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“Tye takes us, step by step, as one of America’s most dangerous right-wing populists learns how to use fear and deception to vault his way into power and threaten our country’s most basic rights. The lessons for today are all too clear.”
Samantha Powerformer US ambassador to the United Nations and New York Times bestselling author of The Education of an Idealist
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“In an age when we see the resurrection of Senator Joe McCarthy’s tactics — exaggeration and lies, guilt by association, the smearing of political opponents, and above all the acquiescence of enablers who know better — Larry Tye’s DEMAGOGUE is a gripping, essential read.”
Daniel Ellsbergnuclear defense analyst and author of The Doomsday Machine
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“As the demagogue now in the Oval Office--mentored personally by McCarthy's unscrupulous disciple Roy Cohn--asserts monarchical authority, it has never been more urgent to have Larry Tye's definitive answers to the questions: How did Joe McCarthy get power in America? And how was he brought down?"
John W. Deanformer Nixon White House Counsel
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“In writing the definitive account of Senator Joe McCarthy, longtime journalist Larry Tye has provided more than untold history, but also an essential primer for the times of Trump, as America experiences another authoritarian personality who has gained an outsized hold on the Republican Party. We cannot ignore the lessons revealed in Larry Tye’s narrative."
David MaranissPulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father
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“Larry Tye's deeply reported Demagogue accomplishes two essential tasks at once. As first-rate biographies do, it lifts Joe McCarthy from stereotype to vivid flesh, while also using the past to illuminate the present."
Richard Ben-Venisteassistant Watergate special prosecutor and author of The Emperor’s New Clothes
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“Fueled by a trove of newly uncovered documents, Demagogue charts the legacy of Joe McCarthy, reviled master of the political smear, through the malign tutelage of McCarthy henchman Roy Cohn and directly to Donald J. Trump. A must-read.”
Tim Naftaliformer director of the Nixon Presidential Library and coauthor of Impeachment: An American History
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"Larry Tye's razor smart and riveting account is a timely, and dismaying, reminder of how hard it is for American politics to turn on a demagogue who exploits our fears. Joe McCarthy left few profiles in political courage in his wake."
Julian Zelizerauthor of Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, The Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party
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“There couldn’t be a more fitting time for Larry Tye to revisit the history of Senator Joe McCarthy. Based on new archival findings, Demagogue tells the story of one of the notorious senators in congressional history, a legislator who destroyed lives, shattered reputations, and damaged institutions until he eventually did himself in.”

Reviews of Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon

Michiko KakutaniNew York Times
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“Mr. Tye… has a keen gift for narrative storytelling and an ability to depict his subject with almost novelistic emotional detail… Tye conscientiously strips away the accretions of myth that have come to surround Robert F. Kennedy, while at the same time creating a sympathetic portrait of this complex, searching man.”
Joe ScarboroughWashington Post
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“Tye traces the jagged line of Bobby Kennedy’s transformation from ideologue to idealist while attorney general. But that path was anything but straight… Like Alexander Hamilton during our nation’s founding, Kennedy was the most dominant figure of his time not to be elected president. He shaped events during the most turbulent years since the Civil War.. Any study of Bobby Kennedy will be less about what he was than what he might have become. Tye has crafted a multi-layered, inspiring portrait of RFK. Because the author refuses to avert his eyes from the uglier chapters in Kennedy’s life, he provides readers and historians their most in-depth look at an extraordinary figure whose transformational story shaped America at mid-century.”
David NasawNew York Times
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“Larry Tye has done his homework. He has read the books and articles, interviewed hundreds of family members, friends, colleagues and acquaintances, and made use of newly released materials in the Kennedy Library and elsewhere to produce a nuanced, balanced, affectionate and mostly favorable portrait”¦ [Tye] presents us with a kind of bildungsroman of a young, privileged man who is forced to learn on the job and makes mistakes”¦ We are in Larry Tye’s debt for bringing back to life the young presidential candidate who”¦ for a brief moment, almost half a century ago, instilled hope for the future in angry, fearful Americans.”
Elaine ElinsonSan Francisco Chronicle
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"Tye’s vivid journalistic style makes the biography an arresting read… no one yet, including biographers he highly esteems… has ‘examined the nuances of [Bobby Kennedy’s] pilgrimage. … It was [not] a straight line from conservative to liberal.’ These… ‘dueling aspects of Bobby’s political soul’ [are] what drove the award-winning Boston Globe reporter to interview more than 400 sources (including Ethel Kennedy) and review 58 boxes of Kennedy’s personal papers that had been locked away for four decades… Though Tye clearly admires the compassionate, tenacious leader that Bobby became, he does not allow that persona to obfuscate or excuse his earlier political acts of joining McCarthy’s witch hunts or bolstering corrupt dictators."
Library Journal (starred review)
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“A captivating account of the political career of Robert F. Kennedy, from his years as a zealous communist hunter for Joe McCarthy through the 1968 presidential campaign during which he was assassinated ate age 42. For this state-of-the-art political biography, Tye conducted 400 interviews with people who worked with Kennedy. He also had access to national archives. The author’s admiration for his subject shows, but this is no hagiography”¦Shedding new light on Kennedy’s relationships with Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr., Tye ultimately reveals Kennedy as a work in progress who, by the end of his life, had become a beloved advocate for minorities and the poor”¦ [An] absorbing narrative”
The Economist
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“Mr Tye’s account is nuanced and thorough”¦ highlighting how much Kennedy would change over his short life. His cold-warrior posturing”¦ would soften as he saw more of the world and its hardships. Gradually, this privileged son who lived in an enormous mansion learned to empathise with those on the fringes of society”¦ Indeed, it is Kennedy’s work on civil rights and poverty that reverberates most powerfully through history. As attorney-general during his brother’s presidency, he ordered troops to prepare for a stand-off in Alabama with the arch-segregationist governor over admitting African-Americans to the state university. As a senator, he travelled to Mississippi to search out the poverty that the state’s leaders ignored. He also became an early ally to Cesar Chavez and the farmworkers Chavez fought for”