by Bradley W. Hart
St. Martin's Griffin
A book examining the strange terrain of Nazi sympathizers, nonintervention campaigners and other voices in America who advocated on behalf of Nazi Germany in the years before World War II. Americans who remember World War II reminisce about how it brought the country together. The less popular truth behind this warm nostalgia: until the attack on Pearl Harbor, America was deeply, dangerously divided. Bradley W. Hart's Hitler's American Friends exposes the homegrown antagonists who sought to protect and promote Hitler, leave Europeans (and especially European Jews) to fend for themselves, and elevate the Nazi regime. Some of these friends were Americans of German heritage who joined the Bund, whose leadership dreamed of installing a stateside Fuhrer. Some were as bizarre and hair-raising as the Silver Shirt Legion, run by an eccentric who claimed that Hitler fulfilled a religious prophesy. Some were Midwestern Catholics like Father Charles Coughlin, an early right-wing radio star who broadcast anti-Semitic tirades. They were even members of Congress who used their franking privilege--sending mail at cost to American taxpayers--to distribute German propaganda. And celebrity pilot Charles Lindbergh ended up speaking for them all at the America First Committee. We try to tell ourselves it couldn't happen here, but Americans are not immune to the lure of fascism. Hitler's American Friends is a powerful look at how the forces of evil manipulate ordinary people, how we stepped back from the ledge, and the disturbing ease with which we could return to it.
"Leveraging impeccable research, mining recently unsealed archives, and told with the eye of a cultural storyteller, Hitler's American Friends shows how devastatingly close prewar American populism came to an embrace of fascism." -- Tilar Mazzeo, author of The Hotel on Place Vendôme
"Bradley Hart has written a riveting account of a pivotal era in our history, but also a warning about today. In meticulous detail, he shows how easily extremism -- even fascism -- can take root in troubled times... A must-read." -- Mary Jo McConahay, author of The Tango War: The Struggle for the Hearts, Minds and Riches of Latin America During World War II
"Essential reading not only for scholars working on the global history of fascism but for everyone interested in the contemporary wave of right-wing populism." -- David Motadel, assistant professor of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science
About the Author:
Bradley W. Hart is an Assistant Professor at California State University, Fresno, USA and a former by-fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, UK. His previous works include a co-edited volume entitled The Foundations of the British Conservative Party: Essays on Conservatism from Lord Salisbury to David Cameron.