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Swastika Nation: Fritz Kuhn and the Rise and Fall of the German American Bund

Swastika Nation chronicles the rise and fall of the German-American Bund, a pro-Nazi movement that swept the United States in the 1930s. However, the Bundist dream of a Swastika Nation, under the leadership of their leader Bundesführer Fritz Kuhn, attracted powerful foes. Through the independent work of many larger than life figures--including the duo of New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia and prosecuter Thomas Dewey; the newly-formed Congressional House Committee on Un-American Activities; the bulldog reporting of newspaper columnist Walter Winchell; and the distinctive methods employed by Jewish mobsters Meyer Lansky, Longy Zwillman, Bugsy Siegel, and Mickey Cohen--Kuhn and the German-American Bund came to an inglorious end. All this, plus a supporting cast that includes Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Jack Ruby, Edward G. Robinson, and many others. It’s a book that’s jam packed with incredible tales, a wild slice of American history you won’t be able to put down. (St. Martin's Press, 2013; Picador, 2014)

Reading group guide for Swastika Nation

Reviews & Praise

"[An] engrossing retelling..."
Sam Roberts
The New York Times

"[An] impeccably researched and forcefully written book...[it starts] off with such a stylish bang that it is all but impossible not to keep reading to the end."
Rick Kogan
Chicago Tribune

"...a fresh account of a well-documented era."
Publishers Weekly

"...told with relish and undisguised disdain."
Kirkus Reviews

"[Bernstein] succeeds in putting together the history of the Bund in a detailed and entertaining way. Swastika Nation is exceptional fare for anyone wanting to find out more about the internal state and the strategies of German expats loyal to their fascist Fatherland.”
The Monitor
Berlin, Germany

" and addictive action...(F)ans of the work of Frederic Forsyth and Tom Clancy treat Bernstein's work as well written story that the reader can absorb without rest."
History Magazine
Warsaw, Poland

“Arnie Bernstein follows his intriguing cast of characters through an epic American adventure. He’s done his homework and it shows on every page. Americans Nazis slugging it out with Jewish mobsters. Politicians concocting backroom schemes. Plus Walter Winchell, Henry Ford, and plenty of movie stars. This is narrative nonfiction at its best, a gripping tale that’s impossible to put down.”
Karen Abbott
New York Times bestselling author of
Sin in the Second City, American Rose and Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy

“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. Every once in a while a great book comes out of nowhere and knocks you out of your seat. Get ready.”
Jonathan Eig
New York Times best-selling author of
Get Capone, Luckiest ManOpening Day, and The Birth of the Pill

“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.”
Arthur Goldwag
New York Times bestselling author of
The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right

"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."
Gary Krist
New York Times bestselling author of
City of Scoundrels and Empire of Sin

“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.”
Gregg Olsen
New York Times best-selling author
Starvation Heights and The Deep Dark

“Arnie Bernstein is a master storyteller, and with his new project he’s found the story of a lifetime. Here’s a book with a cast of bigger-than-life characters – Fritz Kuhn, Mayor LaGuardia, Walter Winchell, gangster Meyer “Little Man” Lansky – and a powerful, riveting story that few people know about. Hollywood will be chomping at the bit for this one.”
John McNally
Award-winning author of
After the Workshop and The Book of Ralph

Polish translation from Rebis Publishing, Poznan, Poland (2015)