April 15, 2011, 3:00Ė5:00 p.m.
The Acid Attack on Victor Riesel and the Racketeer Menace in Cold War America
David Witwer, Penn State Harrisburg
Commentators: Victor G. Devinatz, Illinois State University and Liesl Orenic, Dominican University
When a hired thug hurled acid in the face of the prominent newspaper columnist, Victor Riesel, in 1956, the attack left him permanently blind. The incident appeared to dramatically vindicate Rieselís repeated warnings about the dangerous power of labor racketeers and it helped spur the creation of the largest ever congressional investigation into union corruption, the McClellan Committee hearings (1957-1959). My paper uses the history of this sensational crime to explore how the issue of union corruption emerged onto the nationís political agenda in this era; it also probes the intersecting interests in the media, politics and business community who hoped to shape the impact this issue would have.
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Co-sponsored by the History Departments of Northern Illinois University, Northwestern University, Roosevelt University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; the Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture at theUniversity of Chicago; and Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas
Scholl Center for
American History and Culture
60 W. Walton St.
Chicago IL 60610
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