The Ten-Cent Plague (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
At the end of World War II, the enemy defeated and the peace secured, the United States was poised to enjoy a period of security and prosperity. While the country did experience a sustained economic growth into the 1960’s, growth unparalleled in modern times, a sense of security seemed to elude the postwar generation, according to The Ten-Cent Plague by David Hajdu. The American nuclear monopoly, which ended the war with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was shattered by the Soviet Union’s development of its atomic bomb and nuclear arsenal. Internal security was challenged by Senator Joseph McCarthy’s crusade against what he claimed was widespread domestic subversion by Communists in the federal government, the entertainment industry, and the Army. Estes Kefauver, a senator from Tennessee, chaired governmental investigative committees that examined the growing concern with domestic crime and juvenile delinquency. Paranoia appeared to reign throughout the land.
On April 22, 1954, postwar paranoia coalesced in two U.S. Senate hearings. As Hajdu points out, both were decisive but in contrary ways. In Washington, Senator McCarthy’s probe into Communist infiltration of the Army marked the end of a movement in decline and destroyed the credibility and reputation of the junior senator from Wisconsin. The other Senate hearing was conducted in New York by Robert C. Hendrickson, a first-term Republican from New Jersey, into the link between...
(The entire section is 1800 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
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Entertainment Weekly, March 21, 2008, p. 62.
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(The entire section is 48 words.)