Friday, July 28, 2006

Interesting reading for history buffs

WFMU's Beware of the Blog has a post up about Harvey Matusow. Who was he? He was one of the main sources for Roy Cohn and Senator Joseph McCarthy during the red scare of the 50s. Matusow lied about lots of people having Communist ties. He ruined the lives of many people. The irony was that he was an opportunist who was a member of the Communist party before he turned into a paid informant liar. Fascinating reading, including what became of the man.


Scott said...

I have a copy of his book False Witness which I have read. He is indeed a fascinating character, and one I have been meaning to write a play about. My problem is the research gets me so angry. The witch hunting atmosphere today is the same. Replace 'communist' with 'terrorist' and the headlines could be the same.

Among others, I've read most of another book, The Matusow Affair. This was written by the publisher of False Witness and talks not only of Matusow, but of all they had to go through to hide him from the Justice Department (and other) goons while he was finishing the book. The publishers and Matusow feared for their lives, probably with very good cause.

During their discussions Matusow would sit and make animals out of pipe cleaners. One of the things he did performing for kids. It sounded like it was engaging and dorky at the same time. He was shameless and remorseful, simple and genius.

He seemd oblivious to his actions as a paid informer for so long, yet he dictated a well constructed manuscript, with documentation, that required very little editing. His internal conflicts were deep and manifested themselves throughout his life.

This is the project I keep saying I need to continue.

B.D. said...

Interesting. It slays me that he became a Mormon afterwards. The religion was founded by Joseph Smith who was convicted of fraud in New York before going on to start the religion.