Swastika Nation

Fritz Kuhn and the Rise and Fall of the German-American Bund

By Arnie Bernstein
(St. Martin's Press, Hardcover, 9781250006714, 368pp.)

Publication Date: September 3, 2013

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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In the late 1930s, the German-American Bund, led by its popinjay dictator Fritz Kuhn, was a small but powerful national movement in pre-World War II America, determined to conquer the United States government with a fascist dictatorship. They met in private social halls and beer garden backrooms, gathered at private resorts and public rallies, developed their own version of the SS and Hitler Youth, published a national newspaper and--for a brief moment of their own imagined glory--seemed poised to make an impact on American politics.

But while the American Nazi leadership dreamed of their Swastika Nation, an amalgamation of politicians, a rising legal star, an ego-charged newspaper columnist, and denizens of the criminal underworld utilized their respective means and muscle to bring down the movement and its dreams of a United Reich States.

Swastika Nation by Arnie Bernstein is a story of bad guys, good guys, and a few guys who fell somewhere in-between. The rise and fall of Fritz Kuhn and his German-American Bund at the hands of these disparate fighters is a sometimes funny, sometimes harrowing, and always compelling story from start to finish.

About the Author

ARNIE BERNSTEIN learned firsthand about American Nazis as a high school student, when a group of neo-fascists threatened to march in his neighborhood, known for its large Jewish population. He has been interviewed by the New York Times, BBC Radio, NPR, PBS, and numerous documentaries. He's lectured at DePaul University, the Chicago History Museum, and other venues, and appeared on C-SPAN's Book-TV. Bernstein's nonfiction tale Bath Massacre: America's First School Bombing was honored as a Notable Book of the Year by the State Library of Michigan. He lives in Chicago.

Praise For Swastika Nation

[An] engrossing retelling...

Impeccably researched and forcefully written.

...told with relish and undisguised disdain.

...fast-paced...a fresh account of a well-documented era.

"As there are few other works specifically on this topic - none aimed at a popular audience and many out of print - this is an adequate overview of the history of the Bund. Recommended for those interested in the time period and the U.S. Nazi movement."

This is narrative nonfiction at its best, a gripping tale that's impossible to put down.

"This is a breathtaking story of a lost piece of American history--a powerfully written, expertly researched tale packed with fascinating characters and riveting action."

"Arnie Bernstein is a master storyteller…Here's a book with a cast of bigger-than-life characters…A powerful, riveting story."

No novelist would have dared to pass off the bumptious Fritz Kuhn, his dim-witted associates, or his improbable harem of divorced socialites as real-life characters. But for a few years in the 1930s, the Bundesführer purveyed his bizarre blend of Hitler-worship, Jew-hatred, and star-spangled patriotism to audiences of thousands--while the likes of Walter Winchell, Thomas Dewey, Fiorella LaGuardia, and Meyer Lansky worked separately and sometimes together to bring him down. Swastika Nation reminds us that when it comes to the politics of hatred, truth is stranger than fiction--and nothing is new under the sun.

Swastika Nation is the frightening, compulsively readable story of the rise of the German-American Bund of the 1930s. Arnie Bernstein chronicles the unlikely coalition of crusading politicians, moonlighting Hollywood icons, and tough-guy Jewish mobsters who found common cause in fighting the specter of homegrown Nazism at a time when it really could have happened here. His book is a vivid and enlightening look at a largely forgotten episode of American history.

Bernstein wraps his arms around an amazing cast and spins a tale that will readers breathless--it's that good. An astonishing read by a wonderful writer.

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