cover image Hitler’s American Friends: The Third Reich’s Supporters in the United States

Hitler’s American Friends: The Third Reich’s Supporters in the United States

Bradley W. Hart. St. Martin’s/Dunne, , $28.99 ISBN 978-1-250-14895-7

“The threats posed by the American Nazi movement were far greater than we remember today” is the chilling conclusion that history professor Hart reaches in this well-sourced overview of American support for Nazism in the 1930s and 1940s. Hart opens with a 1941 speech by the best-known American Nazi sympathizer—legendary aviator Charles Lindbergh—who told an audience in Iowa that Jewish influence in Hollywood, the news media, and government “presented a unique danger” to the U.S. Though his anti-Semitic remarks were condemned widely, the America First Committee, for which Lindbergh was a spokesperson, also saw a “grassroots outpouring of support.” Hart then steps back to detail lesser-known figures who aspired to bring Nazi ideology to the U.S. and to keep the country out of World War II, starting with the German American Bund, which held Fourth of July rallies honoring Hitler and Mussolini. That organization was brought low by John Metcalfe, a German-born reporter who had infiltrated it. Hart also gives credit to other journalists and government officials who “risked life and limb to expose plots against the United States.” American Nazis were ultimately unsuccessful, but Hart intends his history as a cautionary tale, noting that “Hitler’s American friends were successful for a time because they seemed to provide an alternative set of answers to those being offered by the political establishment.” This illuminating history will interest anyone who wants to know how nationalist movements succeed or fail. Agent: Andy Ross, Andy Ross Agency. (Oct.)