The Award Winning Book

The Award Winning Book:
“Washington Gone Crazy: Senator Pat McCarran and the Great American Communist Hunt” is an important historical work on McCarthyism. Published by Steerforth Press in 2004, it was featured on the cover of The New York Times Book Review upon release.

The biography was among the 100 Notable Books of the Year listed by The New York Times Book Review, it was a finalist for the annual book prize awarded by The Los Angeles Times and shortlisted for the Ambassador Book Award in American Studies. It won the D.B. Hardeman Prize for best book on Congress from the Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation.

Esteemed scholar Michael J. Ybarra’s “Washington Gone Crazy”-based on extensive new archival research-offers a fair-minded, and ultimately devastating, portrait of Nevada’s notorious Cold Warrior. A truly landmark study.
—Douglas Brinkley, author of “Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War”

“Thanks to Michael J. Ybarraʼs magisterial and beautifully written book, McCarranʼs disquieting place in our history is restored.”
—Ronald Radosh in The Los Angeles Times Book Review (front cover)

“Unlike the legislatively lazy McCarthy, McCarran performed the heavy lifting of shepherding major anti-Communist laws through Congress. . . . Ybarra chronicles these Senate showdowns with gusto, with a Robert Caro—like love of Senate maneuvering, and with an eye for detail that enhances his account.”
—David Greenberg in The New York Times Book Review (front cover)

“A richly researched, endlessly entertaining chronicle of what might have been the 20th centuryʼs most tragic, self-destructive politics. Ybarra traces the origins of the periodʼs hysteria to ʻa conservative reactionʼ to the New Deal fueled by ʻrural rancor toward urban elites, nativist dread of encroaching minorities, fundamentalist anxiety over the spread of secular values, and Jeffersonian scorn for a growing and activist government.ʼ”
—Robert Sherrill in The Washington Post Book World

“Refreshingly, Ybarra understands that millions of decent Americans detested FDR and that not every critic of the New Deal had two heads. . . . The pre—Cold War Pat McCarran stood for peace, limited government, and federal aid to Nevada. But by the late 1940s he had lost his way. . . . The erstwhile champion of dissenters was now J. Edgar Hooverʼs staunchest ally.”
—Bill Kauffman in The Wall Street Journal

“Ybarraʼs case for McCarranism over McCarthyism is so strong that this book might become the standard revisionist treatment of high-level hate-mongering in the United States during the 1940s and 1950s. For those who study the craft of biography, Ybarra could become the heir to Robert Caro.”
— Steve Weinberg in The San Jose Mercury News

The book is available now at

DB Hardeman Prize press release

C-Span video for “Washington Gone Crazy”