A vivid history of homegrown resistance.




During World War II, American Nazis planned to overthrow the U.S. government and eradicate Jews.

The director of the Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life and an award-winning film historian, Ross (History/Univ. of Southern California; Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics, 2011, etc.) tells a shocking story of Nazi efforts to infiltrate America. He focuses on Leon L. Lewis, a Los Angeles attorney who created a spy ring to infiltrate and undermine Nazi groups and faced widespread anti-Semitism throughout the country and in government. Nazis set their sights on the film industry, which they saw as dominated by Jews. Their plans included killing prominent entertainers, including Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Charlie Chaplin, and movie heads Louis B. Mayer and Jack Warner. They proposed public executions of Jews and a plan to drop cyanide into an acid solution that would be blown into Jewish homes and synagogues to exterminate Jews—“like rats, that is the way to get rid of them,” announced a Nazi leader. When Lewis solicited government support and funding for his operation, he was met with a mixed response: anti-Semites abounded there, too, and the FBI and newly created House Un-American Activities Committee were concerned more with routing out communists than in dealing with the Nazi threat. Movie executives contributed to Lewis’ efforts but at the same time wanted to ensure that Germany would remain a strong outlet for their films. “However much they may have hated the German consul and the Hitler regime,” Ross writes, “the movie moguls had to cooperate with both if they wished to remain in the German market.” To halt production of one movie he deemed “detrimental to German prestige,” the consul summoned German actors and threatened them with harm to family members living in Germany if they appeared in it. Ross puts his experience in film history to good use, and he creates lively portraits of the men and women whom Lewis recruited as spies and who succeeded in putting some dangerous Nazis behind bars.

A vivid history of homegrown resistance.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62040-562-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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