Regular price: $23.09

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free.
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price.
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love.
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel.
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month.
OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

Nazism triumphed in Germany during the high era of Jim Crow laws in the United States. Did the American regime of racial oppression in any way inspire the Nazis? 

The unsettling answer is yes. In Hitler's American Model, James Whitman presents a detailed investigation of the American impact on the notorious Nuremberg Laws, the centerpiece anti-Jewish legislation of the Nazi regime. Contrary to those who have insisted that there was no meaningful connection between American and German racial repression, Whitman demonstrates that the Nazis took a real, sustained, significant, and revealing interest in American race policies. As Whitman shows, the Nuremberg Laws were crafted in an atmosphere of considerable attention to the precedents American race laws had to offer. German praise for American practices, already found in Hitler's Mein Kampf, was continuous throughout the early 1930s, and the most radical Nazi lawyers were eager advocates of the use of American models. 

But while Jim Crow segregation was one aspect of American law that appealed to Nazi radicals, it was not the most consequential one. Rather, both American citizenship and antimiscegenation laws proved directly relevant to the two principal Nuremberg Laws - the Citizenship Law and the Blood Law. Whitman looks at the ultimate, ugly irony that when Nazis rejected American practices, it was sometimes not because they found them too enlightened but too harsh. Indelibly linking American race laws to the shaping of Nazi policies in Germany, Hitler's American Model upends understandings of America's influence on racist practices in the wider world.

©2017 Princeton University Press (P)2018 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"An important book every American should read." (Donté Stallworth)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    22
  • 4 Stars
    7
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    19
  • 4 Stars
    6
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    21
  • 4 Stars
    4
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

troublingly insightful.

offers a fair surprising view on American legal precedence for racism and the extent to which it lead and inspired racist refines like the Nazi party, but carefully avoids blame or excuses for the atrocities of that Regime

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

interesting chapter of history

In the United States, we are accustomed -- in grade and high school at any rate -- to being taught a cleansed, heroic version of American history, with most of the blemishes suppressed altogether or minimized. This would include, of course, the "original sin" of slavery (the US was the largest slave society in the world in the mid-19th century) and the son of original sin, the black codes (etc.) that succeeded in reinstating a version of slavery after the failure of reconstruction. Racism remains pervasive in US culture today (and not just white-on-black racism), but it is no longer "legally sanctioned" in the way it was from the 1890s (e.g., Plessy vs Ferguson) to the 1960s.

It should be no surprise to Americans that the Nazi's did not invent legalized/institutionalized racism. Nor did leaders in the post-bellum US. But in the late-1920s, before they came to power, the Nazis did try to shape a coherent philosophy for their movement (anyone who has read Mein Kampf will know that it was incoherent philosophy). In so doing, they looked around the world for "models" just as they attempted to put philosophical arguments of their own in place to support Aryanism and anti-Semitism. One place where they found ample philosophy and ample laws (in all 50 states and DC) was the United States. In this book James Whitman triangulates between US legal structures of racism, German racism/anti Semitism which had yet to assume legal form, and the Nazi effort to form a cultural philosophy & in the early 1930s, a political one.

Whitman does not claim that the Nazis became anti-Semites because of what they learned from US models. But he does show that pervasive legal restrictions gave Nazis "comfort" that they were not alone and gave them models easily copied into the law codes of 1930s Germany. In so showing, Whitman reminds us that the US does not have clean hands in this area, far from it. The racism and anti-Semitism and other institutionalized prejudice in pre WWII United States is a horrible legacy we still live with. And it was a horrible (if unintentional) model for the Holocaust.

I did not give this book 5 stars for a few reasons. First, it is dry, sometimes repetitive, and contains lengthy passages of verbatim laws and regulations. These elements do not lend strength to an audiobook. Nevertheless, the book is very meaty, very convincing in its arguments. Second, the narrator sometimes struggles through this dense material.

The strength of this book is how it arrays its evidence and its arguments about these lamentable histories, of Germany and the US, where we had many parallels and where the US served as one of the main foreign models used by Hitler and his henchman.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful