Haunted by Hitler
Liberals, the Left, and the Fight against Fascism in the United States
Published by: University of Massachusetts Press
296 pages, 6.13 x 9.25 x 0.90 in, 7 halftones
- Published: December 2014
Although fascism is typically associated with Europe, the threat of fascism in the United States haunted the imaginations of activists, writers, and artists, spurring them to create a rich, elaborate body of cultural and political work. Traversing the Popular Front of the 1930s, the struggle against McCarthyism in the 1950s, the Black Power movement of the 1960s, and the AIDS activism of the 1980s, Haunted by Hitler highlights the value of “antifascist” cultural politics, showing how it helped to frame the national discourse. Christopher Vials examines the ways in which anxieties about fascism in the United States have been expressed in the public sphere, through American television shows, Off-Broadway theater, party newspapers, bestselling works of history, journalism, popular sociology, political theory, and other media. He argues that twentieth-century liberals and leftists were more deeply unsettled by the problem of fascism than those at the center or the right and that they tirelessly and often successfully worked to counter America’s fascist equivalents.
"With insight and grace, Christopher Vials demonstrates compelling new ways of understanding a complicated tradition of the Left and U.S. culture. The steady flow of astute interpretations and commentary adds up to scholarship of enduring importance, a treasure trove for the specialist and general reader alike."—Alan Wald, author of American Night: The Literary Left in the Era of the Cold War "Vials’s rehabilitation of the long-standing and abiding American antifascist tradition is a game-changer for those interested in the ‘f word’ (fascism) and for those who want to understand both liberal and left politics in the ‘American Century.’"—Doug Rossinow, author of Visions of Progress: The Left-Liberal Tradition in America "Vials’s scholarship—its mix of secondary sources drawn from a wide array of contemporary and current scholars and archival and primary materials—produces a rich matrix that grounds the argument. This is a compelling read."—Paula Rabinowitz, author of American Pulp: How Paperbacks Brought Modernism to Main Street "An involved study . . . Vials's exploration of Rod Serling's concern about right-wing extremism is worth the price of this volume and provides fascinating reflections about The Twilight Zone. Recommended."—Choice "Vials has much to offer. His sources are many and varied, ranging from interviews with some of those engaged in antifascist efforts in the earliest days to material culled from the electronic databases of American newspapers and the recent work of other scholars. He has insightful commentary and a cogent argument for recognizing the value of antifascists movements of the past eight decades and understanding their relevance today."—Yearbook of German American Studies "The governing idea for the author is that properly evaluating these troublesome political trends is essential to the ability to counter them effectively. In service of this project, he offers readers three crucial tools: clear definition, astute historical grounding, and perhaps most absorbing, and indexical view of a fascinating repository of left-liberal, antifascist scholarly and cultural articulations."—Against the Current "[An] impressive study of the history and vitality of antifascism, . . . clear and eminently readable."—Journal of American History "Haunted by Hitler is rich and exciting to read and leaves no doubt that a history of anti-fascism in America exists."—die Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft "Christopher Vials's impressively researched and politically important book is the first to argue that 'anti-fascism has . . . constituted a coherent body of cultural work in the United States' (8)."—Science & Society