Gossip Men

J. Edgar Hoover, Joe McCarthy, Roy Cohn, and the Politics of Insinuation

Christopher M. Elias

Gossip Men

Christopher M. Elias

288 pages | 12 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2021
Cloth $35.00 ISBN: 9780226624822 Will Publish May 2021
E-book $35.00 ISBN: 9780226751528 Will Publish May 2021
J. Edgar Hoover, Joseph McCarthy, and Roy Cohn were titanic figures in the midcentury United States, wielding national power in government and the legal system through intimidation and insinuation. Hoover’s FBI thrived on secrecy, threats, and illegal surveillance, while McCarthy and Cohn will forever be associated with the infamous anticommunist smear campaign of the early 1950s, which culminated in McCarthy’s public disgrace during televised Senate hearings. In Gossip Men, Christopher M. Elias takes a probing look at these tarnished figures to reveal a host of startling new connections among gender, sexuality, and national security in twentieth-century American politics. Elias illustrates how these three men solidified their power through the skillful use of deliberately misleading techniques like implication, hyperbole, and photographic manipulation. Just as provocatively, he shows that the American people of the 1950s were particularly primed to accept these coded threats because they were already familiar with such tactics from widely popular gossip magazines.

​By using gossip as a lens to examine profound issues of state security and institutional power, Elias thoroughly remaps our understanding of the development of modern American political culture.

Chapter One: The Topography of Modernity

Chapter Two: The Professional Bureaucrat in the Public Eye

Chapter Three: Populist Masculinity in the American Heartland

Chapter Four: The Power Broker as a Young Man

Chapter Five: Scandal as Political Art

Chapter Six: Under the Klieg Lights

Epilogue: The Long Life of Surveillance State Masculinity
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