Quirky Books: McCarthy by Roy Cohn

Thursday, December 9, 2010

McCarthy by Roy Cohn

It is tiring reading this book. Almost as clinical as a textbook, it is filled with valuable legal, political, biographical and autobiographical information. Smatterings of upbeat tone, period cliches and personal stories hardly help in making ten pages seem like ten pages not thirty.

Roy Cohn, born 1927, is the venerable lawyer side-kick of Senator Joe McCarthy during one of the greatest Cold War scandals in United States history. The threat of Russia, China and Korea was on the forefront of everyone's mind. McCarthy extended the threat to National Security beyond finding spies and terrorists living in the United States to all communists regardless of national status and loyalty.

It is peculiar reading the book, because even though Cohn is extremely knowledgeable of proper questioning and legal accordance, he is completely negligent of providing a boundary between someone practicing a philosophy and a military operative attempting to sabotage the country. It is as though they are the same.

Cohn is absolutely positive everything was handled discretely for the protection of the public. Even if not understanding the problem, descriptions of political policy are irreplaceable. He goes over details of the political committees in great deal. I would never guess a Senatorial office acts as the legal system related to information collected by the FBI. This is possibly why he never questioned a case he oversaw as a lawyer in training.

Cohn refers to the Alger Hiss case, truly believing Whitaker Chambers had proof Hiss committed perjury when on trail for espionage. The book was published in 1968. The claimed national documents (Pumpkin Papers), failing to prove anything, did not surface until 1975.

Full of McCarthy's biographical information, it is a better referrence of McCarthy's personal life and trial. Reflective and considering the ongoing slander towards McCarthy, a viewpoint from someone who knew him is refreshing; however, the book is primarily Cohn's autobiography.

Roy Cohn makes reference through his experience and also makes unnecessary judgments about McCarthy. One of these issues arose in one of the later chapters. Cohn talks about McCarthy's alcoholism. Cohn cites the alcohol as the cause of McCarthy's downturn in popularity; however, he mentions talking to McCarthy. McCarthy cites the lawsuit and making a huge mistake as the problem. Blaming alcoholism is obscure. The later conversation makes it possible for a person to imagine events.

A great book, I believe it should have a wider readership. Anyone interested in a lobbying, holding political office or participating in politics should read the book. It isn't drowned in assumptions made by historians. Even if interested or fascinated by politics, laws or regulations it is a great read. If looking for a communist manifesto or the red scare, you won't find it in "McCarthy," though a list of communist novels is listed.

Related Article
An Average Distribution
Constructing an Individual Foundation
Obama National Health Program
Social Tricycle