The Nazi Menace: Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin, and the Road to War

Benjamin Carter Hett. Holt, $29.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-20523-0
In this crisp and well-researched account, Hunter College history professor Hett (The Death of Democracy) portrays the lead-up to WWII as a “crisis in democracy” during which Allied leaders struggled to articulate an “open and international” world vision in response to the rise of totalitarianism. Hett highlights how the redrawing of central and eastern Europe following WWI inflamed ethnic tensions, and argues that the Great Depression “accelerated the trend toward authoritarian politics” across the region. He documents domestic pressures, including organized labor’s anti-immigrant stance, that contributed to President Roosevelt’s initial downplaying of the plight of German Jews, and traces the growth of Winston Churchill’s commitment to democracy through the 1930s. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union used new media technologies to weaponize propaganda, Hett explains, noting that Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds broadcast both revealed the power of radio to incite mass movements and influenced American and British efforts to sway public opinion in favor of confronting Hitler. Hett wisely introduces each chapter with vivid sketches of historical figures, including R.J. Mitchell, designer of the Spitfire fighter plane, and American journalist Dorothy Thompson, humanizing his analysis of political and military developments. This history makes a solid contribution to the understanding of the driving forces behind WWII. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 03/16/2020
Release date: 07/21/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 978-1-250-20524-7
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-1-250-79876-3
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