Blood and Politics
The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream
By Leonard Zeskind
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374109035, 672pp.)
Publication Date: May 12, 2009
List Price: $37.50*
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More than fifteen years in the making, Blood and Politics is the most comprehensive history to date of the white supremacist movement as it has evolved over the past three-plus decades. Leonard Zeskind draws heavily upon court documents, racist publications, and first-person reports, along with his own personal observations. An internationally recognized expert on the subject who received a MacArthur Fellowship for his work, Zeskind ties together seemingly disparate strands—from neo-Nazi skinheads, to Holocaust deniers, to Christian Identity churches, to David Duke, to the militia and beyond. Among these elements, two political strategies—mainstreaming and vanguardism—vie for dominance. Mainstreamers believe that a majority of white Christians will eventually support their cause. Vanguardists build small organizations made up of a highly dedicated cadre and plan a naked seizure of power. Zeskind shows how these factions have evolved into a normative social movement that looks like a demographic slice of white America, mostly blue-collar and working middle class, with lawyers and Ph.D.s among its leaders. When the Cold War ended, traditional conservatives helped birth a new white nationalism, most evident now among anti-immigrant organizations. With the dawn of a new millennium, they are fixated on predictions that white people will lose their majority status and become one minority among many. The book concludes with a look to the future, elucidating the growing threat these groups will pose to coming generations.
Leonard Zeskind has written widely on racism and anti-Semitism for publications such as The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The American Prospect, The Nation, Rolling Stone, and the Forward.
“Nobody knows more about the movements that spawned the alleged gunmen than Leonard Zeskind, who has spent most of a lifetime observing, analyzing and opposing racism and anti-Semitism in America and abroad. Now he has distilled those hard and dangerous decades of work into Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream, a magisterial new book that explains how and why racial hatred became and remains a significant political force in American society.” —Joe Conason, Salon
“Zeskind tracks the white supremacist impulse, as embodied in various groups since the mid-1970s, in chronological fashion. He analyzes every twist, turn and rivalry . . . Readers will be exposed to groups including skinheads, Christian Identity adherents and Ku Kluxers; individuals such as David Duke, Patrick Buchanan and Pat Robertson; and also to ‘cadres’ . . . driven by racism, anti-Semitism, opposition to abortion, antipathy toward homosexuality, hatred of the federal government (and especially the Internal Revenue Service), gun-rights activism, millennial beliefs, anti-immigrant fervor and a taste for Holocaust denial. Given such diversity, if Zeskind had not provided connective tissue showing significant contacts between groups and cross-pollination over time, Blood and Politics would seem merely a compendium of relatively fringe groups and their leaders . . . And yet there is continuity too among the figures Zeskind follows.” —Art Winslow, Los Angeles Times
“Leonard Zeskind’s staggering, painstakingly researched report on the last three decades of American bigotry dramatizes the back story to the recent upsurge in this septic politics . . . Zeskind’s encyclopedic book reveals the shadow history contemporaneous with the march of civil rights and is essential to the understanding of our present moment. Obama’s presidency heralds a new stage in America’s engagement with the color line, but as both Blood and Politics and the recent enlistment in the armies of racial purity attest, nothing in the world is single.” —Michael Washburn, The Boston Globe
“[An] authoritative, readable overview . . . Clearly the best, broadest and deepest historical study of the white nationalist movement yet . . . While it has been in preparation for more than 15 years, the publication of Blood and Politics is timely. America has a black president, and demographers are predicting that whites will cease to be a majority in the U.S. by 2035. Those of us dedicated to a multicultural democracy ignore the seriousness of the white-nationalist threat to domestic peace at our peril. We’re fortunate to have Blood and Politics as a solemn reminder.” —Rick Hellman, Moment“We are all in Leonard Zeskind’s debt. Exhaustively researched, Blood and Politics is not only a brilliant account of the origins, modes of operation, collaborations, and internecine disputes of white supremacist, neo-Nazi, Holocaust-denier, and anti-Semitic groups in America, but alerts us to the fact that despite—or perhaps because of—significant improvements in race relations and changing demographic patterns, we are likely to witness a resurgence of their activities.” —Drew S. Days III, Professor of Law, Yale University, and former U.S. Solicitor General
“Leonard Zeskind deserves our gratitude for his lifelong commitment to the battle against the international racist underworld. He combines the skill and zeal of the investigative reporter with the shrewd perspective of the historian. In this magisterial work, Zeskind identifies the leaders, politics, and strategies of that dangerous movement with great literary skill—and explains why the perils they represent remain alive in a new century.” —Joe Conason, author of It Can Happen Here
“Leonard Zeskind takes us into a sprawling and shadowy world of racist leaders and their communities to give the definitive account of how racial hatred became a powerful movement in the late twentieth century and what it means for today’s multicultural society. A must-read.” —Kathleen Blee, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, University of Pittsburgh
“An authoritative tour through the shifting currents of the American radical right over the last three decades. Filled with keen insights about the interaction between this movement and historical developments shaping the larger world, Blood and Politics is a prescient warning about a movement that promises to haunt us for generations to come.” —Mark Potok, Director, Intelligence Project, Southern Poverty Law Center
“Wow! Leonard Zeskind’s cogent analysis of the white nationalist movement is breathtaking in scope. From one of our most knowledgeable minds on the subject, Blood and Politics presents the big picture, supported by meticulous detail and analysis, and should be required reading.” —Abby Ferber, Professor of Sociology, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
“One of America’s greatest strengths—its diversity—is in danger of being sapped by modern racism. Leonard Zeskind has spent a lifetime studying this danger, and his book is essential to our understanding and response.” —John Shattuck , CEO, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation
“For decades, every journalist and academic reeling from the latest eruption of the far right into national politics has turned first and foremost to Leonard Zeskind. Between the names, dates, and places in his unrivalled archives and the deep understanding forged in more than thirty years of research, activism, and reflection, he sees far more clearly even than the white nationalist movement itself where it has been and where it is going. Blood and Politics is a singular contribution to American history and politics. There will never be—never could be—another book like it.”—Elinor Langer, author of A Hundred Little Hitlers: The Death of a Black Man, the Trial of a White Racist, and the Rise of the Neo-Nazi Movement in America
“For years, Leonard Zeskind has tracked the racist far right, from re-emergence of the Klan to the Oklahoma City bombing, and Blood and Politics is an invaluable guide for anyone seeking to understand how the margins of political life affect the American mainstream. This book is a long awaited event.”—Jim Ridgeway, author of Blood in the Face
“If you care about the future of this nation, non-violence, and armed rebellion, read this remarkably important and ominous book.” — BuzzFlash.com
“Zeskind offers a well-placed warning that the racist right still has plenty of causes left, many wrapped up in the long-simmering nativist, anti-immigration movement.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Zeskind’s rigorously researched and eloquent book is a definitive history of white nationalism and contains alarming warnings for a resurgence in racist politics.” —Publishers Weekly
“Recommended for all libraries.” —Stephen L. Hupp, Library Journal
“An activist who has shadowed white supremacists and anti-Semites for The New York Times and other publications, Zeskind has stuffed a fat bundle of information into 600 pages.” —David Luhrssen, Shepherd Express