A finely wrought, careful, and utterly damning case that ought to prompt a widespread reevaluation of both Ford and...

THE AMERICAN AXIS

HENRY FORD, CHARLES LINDBERGH, AND THE RISE OF THE THIRD REICH

Whisper an antiwar sentiment today, and you’re branded a traitor. Hinder the Allied war effort and champion the Nazi cause, as did a captain of industry and a pioneer of aviation, and you’ll be remembered as a hero.

So Wallace, a researcher for Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Project, demonstrates in this eye-opening if sometimes circumstantial account of automaker Henry Ford’s and pilot Charles Lindbergh’s multifaceted dealings with the Hitler regime. Ford was singularly instrumental, Wallace charges, with Hitler’s rise; not only did Hitler and other Nazis credit their conversion to anti-Semitism in part to Ford’s scurrilous The International Jew, but Ford also funded the early Nazi party unstintingly and, knowingly or not, gave Nazi operatives access to manufacturing specifications and other documents at least until America entered the war. Hitler himself said, “I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration,” not least for providing a model of mass production for the Nazi killing machine. Direct evidence of Ford’s financial role in bringing Hitler to power is scanty, Wallace writes, “a significant amount of the [Ford Motor] company’s early days—particularly material pertaining to Ford’s anti-Semitism” having been carefully discarded. Lindbergh, famed for his transatlantic solo flight, brought pseudoscientific theories of eugenics to his own admiration for the Nazi regime, and the Nazis reciprocated by depicting the blond, blue-eyed Lindbergh as the exemplar of Aryan manhood. Strangely, by Wallace’s account, both men seemed mystified when the Roosevelt administration did not court their services at the outbreak of WWII, on which occasion Ford remarked, “The whole thing has just been made up by Jew bankers.” Though Lindbergh served as a consultant to Ford in the development of the B-24 bomber, he was unable to gain a military commission—and for good reason, inasmuch as even in 1945 he was publicly lamenting the destruction of Germany, a civilization that “was basically our own, stemming from the same Christian beliefs.”

A finely wrought, careful, and utterly damning case that ought to prompt a widespread reevaluation of both Ford and Lindbergh.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-312-29022-5

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2003

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Harari delivers yet another tour de force.

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21 LESSONS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

A highly instructive exploration of “current affairs and…the immediate future of human societies.”

Having produced an international bestseller about human origins (Sapiens, 2015, etc.) and avoided the sophomore jinx writing about our destiny (Homo Deus, 2017), Harari (History/Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem) proves that he has not lost his touch, casting a brilliantly insightful eye on today’s myriad crises, from Trump to terrorism, Brexit to big data. As the author emphasizes, “humans think in stories rather than in facts, numbers, or equations, and the simpler the story, the better. Every person, group, and nation has its own tales and myths.” Three grand stories once predicted the future. World War II eliminated the fascist story but stimulated communism for a few decades until its collapse. The liberal story—think democracy, free markets, and globalism—reigned supreme for a decade until the 20th-century nasties—dictators, populists, and nationalists—came back in style. They promote jingoism over international cooperation, vilify the opposition, demonize immigrants and rival nations, and then win elections. “A bit like the Soviet elites in the 1980s,” writes Harari, “liberals don’t understand how history deviates from its preordained course, and they lack an alternative prism through which to interpret reality.” The author certainly understands, and in 21 painfully astute essays, he delivers his take on where our increasingly “post-truth” world is headed. Human ingenuity, which enables us to control the outside world, may soon re-engineer our insides, extend life, and guide our thoughts. Science-fiction movies get the future wrong, if only because they have happy endings. Most readers will find Harari’s narrative deliciously reasonable, including his explanation of the stories (not actually true but rational) of those who elect dictators, populists, and nationalists. His remedies for wildly disruptive technology (biotech, infotech) and its consequences (climate change, mass unemployment) ring true, provided nations act with more good sense than they have shown throughout history.

Harari delivers yet another tour de force.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-51217-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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A timely contribution to the discussion of a crucial issue.

THE FIGHT TO VOTE

A history of the right to vote in America.

Since the nation’s founding, many Americans have been uneasy about democracy. Law and policy expert Waldman (The Second Amendment: A Biography, 2014, etc.), president of New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, offers a compelling—and disheartening—history of voting in America, from provisions of the Constitution to current debates about voting rights and campaign financing. In the Colonies, only white male property holders could vote and did so in public, by voice. With bribery and intimidation rampant, few made the effort. After the Revolution, many states eliminated property requirements so that men over 21 who had served in the militia could vote. But leaving voting rules to the states disturbed some lawmakers, inciting a clash between those who wanted to restrict voting and those “who sought greater democracy.” That clash fueled future debates about allowing freed slaves, immigrants, and, eventually, women to vote. In 1878, one leading intellectual railed against universal suffrage, fearing rule by “an ignorant proletariat and a half-taught plutocracy.” Voting corruption persisted in the 19th century, when adoption of the secret ballot “made it easier to stuff the ballot box” by adding “as many new votes as proved necessary.” Southern states enacted disenfranchising measures, undermining the 15th Amendment. Waldman traces the campaign for women’s suffrage; the Supreme Court’s dismal record on voting issues (including Citizens United); and the contentious fight to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which “became a touchstone of consensus between Democrats and Republicans” and was reauthorized four times before the Supreme Court “eviscerated it in 2013.” Despite increased access to voting, over the years, turnout has fallen precipitously, and “entrenched groups, fearing change, have…tried to reduce the opportunity for political participation and power.” Waldman urges citizens to find a way to celebrate democracy and reinvigorate political engagement for all.

A timely contribution to the discussion of a crucial issue.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1648-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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