Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss writes of the Red Scare of the 1950s America. Elliott Maraniss, David’s father and a WWII veteran, was spied on by the FBI, named as a communist by an informant, called and blacklisted for five years. Yet he never lost faith in America and emerged on the other side with his family and optimism intact.
Maraniss has used his prodigious research skills to produce a story that leaves one aching with its poignancy, its finely wrought sense of what was lost, both in his home and in our nation. It is at the same time a book that, like his family, never gives in to self-pity but remains remarkably balanced, forthright and unwavering in its search for the truth ... This is, in the end, a fascinating confluence of America, and if the story drags in places—we don’t really need to know that there were 17,000 varieties of American apple by 1905—more often one is bowled over by the vibrancy of that vanished nation.
... both a social and a family history, enlivened by family letters and other personal artifacts ... Always the objective reporter, Maraniss humanizes his father’s inquisitors by probing deeply into their backgrounds to ferret out both their virtues and flaws.
... the tale that emerges is fascinating ... Maraniss includes an absorbing account of the fighting in Spain...On this and other topics, he builds a thorough foundation, allowing the reader to fully appreciate the motivations of the leftist Americans who eventually would be caught in the net of McCarthyism and the House Committee on Un-American Activities ... In recounting his family saga, David Maraniss has wisely followed the precept his father delivered to the House Un-American Activities Committee: 'To properly measure a man’s Americanism you must know the whole pattern of a life' ... Maraniss presents the whole pattern of a generation of young, idealistic Americans — and, ultimately, of one brave and stubborn man who refused to give up his belief in what America stands for.