• Raising Cain Online Reviews
Raising Cain Online Reviews


Excellent! Anyone interested in pacific northwest history and the life of a great historical figure, is going to love this book! Well written and well-researched. An unparalleled read.

Karen Fisher
December 9,2011

One Man’s Fight for Individual Freedom. US Senator Harry P. Cain of Washington died more than forty years ago but his life’s story still resonates and instructs us today on several levels.

First of all, it is a very interesting life’s story. Cain was a commercial banker during the Great Depression, a first-hand observer of pre-war Nazi Germany, a successful two-term mayor of Tacoma, Washington, a high-ranking military government officer during World War II, a very controversial U.S. Senator, an equally controversial presidential appointee, respected civil libertarian, and finally, a community leader and county commissioner in his adopted Miami, Florida.

Beyond his confusing and often conflicted politics, Cain retained a core belief in the importance of human rights and individual dignity. He was one of only two elected officials on the West Coast to oppose the internment of the Japanese during World War II. In the Senate he was an early supporter of Home Rule for the District of Columbia and often defended the rights of those he felt were being unfairly attacked, including his close friend, Senator Josephy McCarthy. Later, he testified on behalf of playwright Arthur Miller during his contempt of Congress trial.

Through exhaustive research of Cain’s personal papers, letters, speeches, and press reports, author C. Mark Smith lets Cain tell the story – largely in his own words and often with surprising candor. Smith adds context and the sights, sounds, and even the smells of what Cain is experiencing around him.

However, perhaps the most interesting and revealing part of Raising Cain are the chapters dealing with Cain’s term on the Subversive Activities Control Board during the Eisenhower Administration. Smith provides a fascinating and detailed description of the “Cain Mutiny” – his efforts to defend government employees caught up in the government’s loyalty-security program and to modify, and ultimately end, the use of the Attorney General’s List of Subversive Organizations as a key enabler of the second Red Scare. Cain’s is a classic story of the conflict between protecting the internal security of the nation and the individual liberties of its citizens, and it is as timely today as it was sixty years ago.

Historians of the period, civil libertarians, and political junkies of all persuasions will really enjoy this book.

Virginia Georgia
March 20, 2011

“Raising Cain” by C.Mark Smith is an interesting history of politics in Washington State and the Federal Government. It is a good story about Harry P. Cain during his military service in World Was II, his six years as a United States Senator, his election efforts against Washington State powerhouses Senators Henry Jackson and Warren Magnuson of which he lost both, and his longtime friendship with Joe McCarthy. Harry Cain courted controversy when he thought it violated constitutional rights and civil liberties and this made him many friends and many political adversaries such as Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. Mark Smith spent many hours with Harry Cain when he stayed at Mark’s parents’ home. This makes the book a very personal and a very special read.

Robert Larson
March 10, 2011

A book on Washington State Political History. Mark Smith has written a wonderful book on the life of a man, Harry P. Cain who added a great deal to our political stature as a state. He served as Mayor of Tacoma, Washington which had been operated as a corrupt city government allowing prostitution to flourish and pay-off to local police. Harry Cain put a stop to that, or at least slowed it down, by working with the Military at Fort Lewis and McChord, two large installations. Mr. Smith has done an excellent job in tracking Harry Cain’s military duties which involved European engagement during World War II and serving on Dwight Eisenhower’s staff in the build up of the invasion of Normandy in 1944. The writing of Cain’s involvement is an interesting footnote to the Ambrose book, “The Supreme Commander” describing Eisenhower’s saga in carrying out the responsibilities of putting team together to successful win Europe back from the German occupation. The stories flow nicely, and Smith’s attention to detail and accuracy is outstanding. It is definitely worth buying and having in your library.

Paul R. Meyer
September 7, 2011

The consistency of a maverick. Harry Pulliam Cain enjoyed an unlikely but meteoric political career first as mayor of Tacoma, Washington, and as a one-term Republican senator from Washington state. But his career in Washington state politics flamed out in resounding defeat in 1952, and he was generally dismissed as a quirky maverick. Author C. Mark Smith brings the perspective of a family friend and finds consistency in Cain’s patriotism and a devotion to civil liberties spanning decades. Smith gives us insights into a life that deserves to be remembered.

Dale Wirsing
March 12, 2011

A terrfiic job on a difficult and overlooked politician. Harry Cain, mayor of Tacoma, army civil affairs colonel, united states senator and then a community leader, is arguably the most contradictory figure in the state’s politics. Smith has done detailed research, been objective, and writes with consistency and clarity. This one of the best two dozen pieces on the public place in Washington in the Twentieth Century.

George W. Scott
March 12, 2011

Cain is an interesting, complicated man and I enjoyed this book. The reason I read this book is that Cain had interviewed Dalip Singh Saund on his TV show in 1959, and we just completed a documentary on Saund (the first Asian American to be elected to Congress). The book was well written and easy to read, for both research and pleasure.

Ms. Malch
August 25, 2015


May 22, 2011

Andy Miller rated it as amazing

An excellent biography of Harry Cain who was elected to the United States Senate in 1946 and defeated for reelection by Henry Jackson in 1952. The author, Mark Smith, writes of Cain’s whole life and shows that Cain was more complex and interesting than his reputation as a doctrinaire conservative who was ineffective in the Senate–though the book does support that conclusion of Cain’s performance in the Senate.

Smith spends much time on Cain’s early life and family which helps put his later life which helps put his later life in perspective. There are chapters on Cain as a progressive mayor of Tacoma. Especially interesting was his public opposition to the Japanese internment after Pearl Harbor, one of very few public officials to take such a stand.

The book then turns to his military service in World War II where he worked with many in the high command, I especially liked reading of his relationship with Ridgeway. Cain’s military service was marked by true patriotism and loyalty, there were many times when Cain rejected “cushy” assignments so that he could serve close to the front. His skill as a military officer was shown by the competing demands for his service by different commanders.

Cain was elected to the Senate in 1946, during a Republican landslide and was the fourth youngest Senator at the time. Smith shows how Cain befriended Joe McCarthy in the Senate, engaged in conservative crusade tangents that isolated him and rebuffed Warren Magnuson’s efforts to form a bipartisan working relationship for Washington state interests. Smith shows why it was no surprise that he was defeated in 1952 in what was otherwise a very Republican year.

The next chapters deal with Cain’s term on the Subversive Activities Control Board during the 1950s. Cain went against type on this Board, he contradicted his Senate career by becoming a watchdog for civil liberties during the McCarthy era. In fact,at the end of his term he was toasted as a champion of civil liberties by his former political adversaries.

Cain then moved to Florida and Smith also chronicles those years including additional examples of Cain going against type such as favoring smoking bans even though he had been a lifelong strong smoker.

At the end of the book I came to perhaps a somewhat different conclusion about Cain’s life. It seemed that Cain’s life was consistent in that he was a contrarian. He was a progressive mayor in Tacoma but that may have been a reaction against the prior inertia and corruption in Tacoma government; in his Senate career he not only went against the rest of his state’s delegation in not working for Washington state interests (as evidenced by his votes against Boeing interests for a relatively esoteric principle) but also worked against his own party’s conservative leadership. His championing of civil liberties, while praiseworthy, can also be explained by his being contrarian to those in charge. And it does appear that Cain was more interested in gaining publicity for his views than in working behind the scenes to effect change. His experiences in Florida also exhibited some of the same nature, he wanted to be active in the Florida Republican party but then took a very visible role supporting Lyndon Johnson’s campaign in 1964.

The one exception to this was Smith’s description of Cain’s military service. There is no evidence of conflicts with his fellow officers, little evidence of strong ego, it appears that Cain serving his country in World War II was Cain at his best.

Feb 15, 2013

Adam rated it really liked it

Cain was an interesting character with a varied career: publicity hound mayor of Tacoma and defender of Japanese-American citizens, Army officer in World War II as a staffer to Clark, Eisenhower, and Ridgway, U.S. Senator, member of the Subversive Activities Control Board and critic of the Eisenhower administration’s loyalty program, and later a civic leader and commissioner in Miami. With a strong contrarian streak, Cain stirred the pot wherever he went and strong libertarian bent (notwithstanding contradictions like his later advocacy of indoor smoking bans) meant he usually came down on the side of human liberty over other considerations.

Cain is largely forgotten today, and he could have suffered the fate of most minor political figures of being written up (if they’re lucky enough) by a second-rate author. C. Mark Smith, though this is his first book, researched his topic well, organized his book clearly, and largely presented very readable, well-written copy. Strongly recommended for anyone interested in Washington State politics and civil liberties. 

Oct 21, 2014

Donald Powell rated it as amazing

A very well written biography. The author had a clear passion for the subject. The story flowed with consistency, coherence and with meaningful explanations of events. Harry Cain was a fascinating character. The book could have disclosed a bit more about his human story but did an adequate if delicate job. Great Tacoma, Washington State and US history for a recent era.


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