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American Fuehrer: George Lincoln Rockwell and the American Nazi Party First Edition Edition

14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0252022852
ISBN-10: 0252022858
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

His father was a popular vaudeville comedian and humor columnist. His mother was a graceful, delicate toe dancer. George Lincoln Rockwell achieved notoriety through an altogether different kind of showmanship, as the founder and leader of the American Nazi Party, who vowed to exterminate Jews, blacks and homosexuals. Although his neofascist crusade, at its height, attracted perhaps a few hundred hardcore followers, the Illinois-born demagogue was no mere powerless gadfly or eccentric crank, as Simonelli, who teaches at Mount St. Mary's College in Los Angeles, demonstrates in his chilling biography. Rockwell's Holocaust denial bequeathed a propaganda tool to racist right-wing extremists who seek to mute the moral lessons of Hitler's crimes. His links to the Christian Identity movement provided a camouflage for a later generation of white supremacists seeking theological justification for their hatreds. Moreover, in the months before he was assassinated in 1967 (possibly as the result of a conspiracy within his own party, as Simonelli reveals), Rockwell attempted to "sanitize" his anti-Semitism and racism for mass consumption. He thereby set an example, according to Simonelli, for David Duke, a Rockwell disciple. Rockwell's psyche remains elusive: the beatings he suffered from the aunt who raised him and the coldness of his domineering father only begin to account for his warped beliefs. Even so, this excellent biography sounds a timely warning against complacency toward contemporary extremists. Photos. (July)

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


"This excellent biography sounds a timely warning against complacency toward contemporary extremists." - Publishers Weekly "Strong stuff that needs to see the light of day." - Booklist "Simonelli's book is well worth reading. It provides a sensible antidote to the shrill cries of hateful leaders." -- Leonard Dinnerstein, American Historical Review "Call me sick, but I had to laugh sometimes while I was reading American Fuehrer ... Laugh the way I would at, say, Charlie Chaplin as Adenoid Hynkel in his 1940 Hitler spoof, "The Great Dictator," because you can't believe someone that depraved, that clownish, that peerlessly narcissistic can win over a single person, much less crowds. Rockwell ... was pathetic and probably mentally ill, but he had charisma... Another nutbar, then. Why should we care? Because, Simonelli stresses, in a nation in which Timothy McVeigh and Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris inflict themselves, Rockwell types still cut a swath." - Katharine Whittemore, Salon Magazine "A meticulously researched work invaluable for its bibliography alone." -- Susan Canedy, The Journal of American History "[Rockwell's] place in the resurgence of racism and anti-Semitism is contained in a biography by Frederick J. Simonelli called American Fuehrer. Read it and you'll understand to some extent why a slick racist rabble-rouser like David Duke exists today. You'll know why there are skinheads and why there are churches that preach the ugliest forms of separatism. Rockwell redefined Nazism to fit America... Simonelli has researched the life of hatred's godfather for almost a decade. He knows him well." - Al Martinez, Los Angeles Times "This is a very good book about a very ugly subject." - Arnold Ages, Chicago Jewish Star "If you're interested in how the network of modern hate got its start, American Fuehrer is a must-read." - Roger Matile, Kendall County Record "The book itself is cool and serious, without a hint of sensationalism...Simonelli provides extensive documentation - and his footnotes and bibliography are, in a way, the most astonishing pages in the book... American Fuehrer is an important addition to the literature on the far right." - Scott McLemee, In These Times "Writing about an individual whose historical legacy is radical and religious hatred is an arduous and perhaps thankless task. Simonelli, writing with grace and care, makes clear his rejection of George Lincoln Rockwell's ideas while successfully demonstrating Rockwell's strategies, affiliations, and significance... The subject matter of this book is not pleasant reading, but the book is both timely and important." - Martin Ridge, Journal of Illinois History "American Fuehrer was difficult to research, and Simonelli has done an unusually industrious job of piecing together Rockwell's personal life and painting a compelling human portrait... This first biography of one of the more enigmatic and contemptible figures of our time will be most useful to those interested in exploring the nature of anti-Semites and anti-Semitism and designing strategies to combat it." - Glen Jeansonne, American Jewish History ADVANCE PRAISE "Simonelli has had extraordinary access to an unusual range of sources unexamined or unknown prior to his research, including private archives. This is a splendid piece of original scholarship on a significant topic, written with verve and clarity."-Michael Barkun, author of Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement "Simonelli has mined the rich lode of personal interviews and archives relating to George Lincoln Rockwell and written the definitive treatment of his subject."-Peter Merkl, coeditor of Encounters with the Contemporary Radical Right

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; First Edition edition (May 20, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252022858
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252022852
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #755,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Harding VINE VOICE on November 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am in the collectibles business, so when someone at my booth at a trade show says they are into Rockwell, I can always get laughs from other customers by asking "Norman or George Lincoln?" That alone testifies to the mark that George Lincoln Rockwell and his American Nazi Party, though small in numbers, left on modern American political history.
American Fuehrer purports to be the first biography of Rockwell written by someone who is not a Rockwell supporter and overall, it is a pretty good one. Though author Frederick J Simonelli goes to frequent pains to remind the reader that he finds Rockwell's views to be loathsome, he also is careful not to fall into the trap of constant name-calling that ensnares many other authors who write about the so-called racist right.
In this book, the reader learns about Rockwell's life before he became a Nazi and a racialist and in so learning can form his own theories about why Rockwell turned to Hitler for inspiration. One also learns about the difficulties Rockwell encountered using the image of Hitler and the symbolism of the Nazis as a recruiting tool so soon after we fought them in World War II. Unlike Hitler, Rockwell found it difficult to attract anything but the rabble to his cause. Competent organizers and administrators were few and far between. But one thing is clear, Rockwell thrived on nearly universal opprobrium.
I was only twelve years old when Rockwell was assassinated but remember seeing Nazis around in San Diego and the Nazi headquarters in El Monte later when I was a teenager. I saw their pamphlets, newspapers, and even the "Diary of Ann Fink" mentioned by the author that uniformed Nazis used to leave in public places.
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34 of 47 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Simonelli's book has two main virtues. First, he had a great deal of access to Rockwell's correpondence and papers and quotes from it liberally. Second, he had a great deal of access to the files of Jewish organizations and individuals who opposed Rockwell.
In spite of this wealth of primary sources, however, the book is disappointing and prefunctory. It seems that after all his archival sleuthing, Simonelli lost interest in his subject matter when he actually sat down to write the book. This leads to a distorted picture of Rockell's ideas and personality. A much fuller picture is found in the Schmaltz biography HATE.
One case in point: Simonelli's discussion of the case against John Patler, Rockwell's convicted killer, leaves out crucial pieces of evidence, giving the impression that the case against Patler was weaker than it actually was. Then Simonelli goes on to air the conspiracy theories blaming Matt Koehl, William Pierce, and others for the murder. These may seem plausible to the reader only because the case against Patler is stated weakly. This is VERY MISLEADING and quite simply unjust.
Simonelli actually does a better job of documenting how Jewish organizations first tried to terrorize and intimidate Rockwell, and then, failing that, resorted to a very successful press blackout to deny him publicity and prevent his ideas from being heard and debated. Simonelli demonstrates just how powerful the Jewish control over the media is, and how Americans are fed a version of reality that is distorted to protect and advance Jewish interests. This is a frightening thought, because if they did it then, they can do it now too.
The bottom line: I recommend this book as a supplement to Schmaltz's HATE, but not as a substitute. If you read one book on Rockwell, read HATE.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Cwn_Annwn on June 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Not that the discerning reader can't get a lot of good info out of this book but it appears to me that the author went out of his way to portray Rockwell as a loser, a misfit, and someone in need of psychiatric care.

Simonelli somehow managed to get access to much of Rockwells personal correspondences but it seems that he selectively used them to point out instances of turmoil and sadness in Rockwells state of mind. He especially uses Rockwells feelings of despondency about his wife, who was the daughter of the Icelandic ambassador to America, leaving him and taking their children back to Iceland with her. I don't think its a particuarly radical statement for me to say that feeling sad about losing your wife and kids is a sign of being normal. Simonelli somehow manages to twist this into an example of Rockwell being an insane loser.

The other bio of Rockwell, Hate by William Schmaltz, is a far superior and unbiased account of GLR's life and highly recomended. However I can only recomend American Fuehrer to somebody who is researching Rockwell and knows how to read with a discerning eye.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Simonelli's book (which has gotten excellent reviews in Publisher's Weekly and Booklist) is a well-researched and serious study of Rockwell's role in the history of neo-Nazism in America by a professional historian who writes in a lively and gripping style.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a small book with 145 pages of text, 50+ pages of endnotes, and a weak index. Rather than tell the story of Rockwell, his lieutenants, and movement, Simonelli does a hatchet job continually referring to Rockwell as a hate monger. The author apparently thinks this needless repetition is necessary to get his points across.
Simonelli does bring further to light Solomon Fineberg's successful operation with his fellow Jews power to keep Rockwell from getting media attention, but he discusses it as if it occurred only between Jewish organizations. The real campaign was to orchestrated Jewish controlled news media. The book fails to mention the FBI's parallel program, COINTELPRO, which was both illegal and damaging to Rockwell.
The other book, William Schmaltz's , "George Lincoln Rockwell & the American Nazi Party," is a better and much more interesting book. It gives details of many of Rockwell's life, operations, confrontations with police, and much more detail on his lieutenants. "White Power," Rockwell's own book, which is still available, is well worth reading.
One has to suspect that Simonelli's book was a Ph.D. dissertation. It can serve as a reference for future biographers but generally is biased, a slow read, and unscholarly yet overly academic.
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