David Maraniss discusses his father, new book and why he wrote it

David Maraniss
David Maraniss

MADISON – David Maraniss wrote his new book “to understand myself and understand this country,” the Madison native and Washington Post associate editor told Doug Moe in a recent Isthmus profile.

Maraniss’ book, “A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father,” is scheduled to be released next week. In it, Maraniss explores his family’s history with communism, the Red Scare and more, even unearthing Elliott Maraniss’ FBI file. He also asks the question: What does it mean to be a good American?

The book, according to David Maraniss, also is a “love story to Madison.” His father brought the family to the city in 1957 when Elliott Maraniss took a job with The Capital Times, where he would later serve as editor-in-chief.

The move to Madison, in part, was set in motion five years earlier, when Elliott Maraniss lost his job as a copy editor for the Detroit Times because an FBI informant testified that he was a communist. He later was fired from The Plain Dealer in Cleveland when an editor heard about what happened in Detroit.

But The Capital Times, a newspaper unafraid to challenge Sen. Joe McCarthy and the Red Scare, gave Maraniss a second chance. Elliott and his wife, Mary Maraniss, built a new life in Madison, raising “a good American family.”

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