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David Maraniss Digs Into His Family's Own Red Scare In 'Good American Family'

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Simon and Schuster

David Maraniss is used to doing exhaustive research on his subjects. The Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist has penned best-selling books about former presidents, baseball legends, and the writer's craft. But his newest book is much closer to home.

A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father tells the story of Elliott Maraniss, who was brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee in Detroit in 1952. The elder Maraniss was questioned for two weeks but refused to name names. He was fired from his newspaper job in Detroit and blacklisted for the next five years. The Maraniss family eventually relocated to Madison, Wis., where Elliot Maraniss took a newspaper job with the Capital Times.

David Maraniss said that digging into his own family's history was harder than he expected:

"In other books — biographies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and Vince Lombardi — they were strangers to me at the start and became very familiar to me after years of research," he explains. "In this case, in one sense my parents were intimately familiar to me at the beginning and I was afraid that by the end they’d seem like strangers."

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Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.