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.
... 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.
The son does not make excuses for his parents' youthful devotion to communism. He respects their commitment to equality and free speech, but writes that he and his siblings are 'confounded' by their parents' blindness to the brutality of the Soviet regime and their continued allegiance to the party following the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact ... has an unexpectedly lyrical sweep as it moves from Room 740 to biography and history and back again. The 'wheel' of Maraniss' Author's Note is ultimately a deeply patriotic portrait of the first half of the 20th century, a prose poem to America's ideals.