Author, Detroit Native David Maraniss Reflects on How 1950s Red Scare Upended His Family

Maraniss talks about his new book “A Good American Family,” his father’s story, and parallels with today’s political environment.

Jake Neher/WDET

The Red Scare of the 1950s was a persecution of liberal intellectuals and activists for their supposed ties to Communist Russia.

It ruined careers. It ruined lives. And it divided America, as the leaders of that crusade thundered from church pulpits and the floor of Congress to create a more monolithic America.

Journalist and author David Maraniss was a young child living here in Detroit with his family during that time, and his father, also a newspaperman, was caught in sites of Congress’ House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1952.

In his new book, “A Good American Family,” Maraniss recounts what happened to his family in the 1950s. Maraniss joins Detroit Today to talk about the book, his family’s story, and parallels between that time in American history and today’s political environment.

“[My father] was not a foreign agent, he was not a spy, he was only following his ideological beliefs which is written into the Constitution defending that freedom of speech and freedom of the press,” Maraniss says.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.


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