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Insidious Foes: The Axis Fifth Column and the American Home Front Hardcover – November 2, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0195092684 ISBN-10: 0195092686 Edition: First

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First edition (November 2, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195092686
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195092684
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,840,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Focusing on the period immediately before Pearl Harbor and on the first year of U.S. involvement in the war, MacDonnell (Emigrants from Ireland to America, 1735-1743, Genealogy Pubs., 1992) considers the threat to America from within by fifth-column tactics. Americans were keenly aware that such tactics were used by Hitler in Europe as country after country fell to the Nazis. MacDonnell explores in detail how much of Hitler's early success was due to the fifth column and how much was due to military skill. He also analyzes German espionage and propaganda efforts in the United States and the reaction of Franklin Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover to these threats. Carefully researched and documented, this work offers an interesting historical view of an emotional and tense time in our history. A valuable source for those interested in World War II or in spy and espionage activities.?Dorothy Lilly, Grosse Pointe North H.S. Lib., Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review


"Carefully researched and documented, this work offers an interesting historical view of an emotional and tense time in our history. A valuable source for those interested in World War II or in spy and espionage activities."--Library Journal


"Insidious Foes is notable for its judicious arguement, cohesive organization, and enlarged perspective."--History


"...on the whole a thorough exposition of an important yet hitherto neglected topic. It is well written and researched and represents a distinguished addition to the literature on contemporary American history."--American Historical Review


"...MacDonnell effectively lays out the facts, how each event interacts with others and what result was created."--Military Review



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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 4, 1997
Format: Hardcover
MacDonnell masterfully captures the fear and anxiety that were such a part of the American psyche at this time in our history. The fact that much of the anxiety we felt as a people was created from "within" makes this a fascinating read and, surprisingly, a topic that has not garnered greater attention in the past.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By William F. Leary on April 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The years before World War II were a time of economic, social and political crises that shaped ideologies, loyalties and activism. Propaganda became a force to be reckoned with, growing in part out of U.S. and British campaigns during the first war. As the threat of another war loomed, America seemed to be facing domestic enemies, and, once again, our fears were being exploited.

Insidious Foes explores the challenges we faced, not just telling stories, but also discusses the spin surrounding them. It is complete, concise and readable. Although it would be easy to overplay the social and political climate of that era or build comparisons with similar events in later years, the author maintains his focus and does not digress. It is a book you can read quickly or over time, an uncommon trait of books dealing with history. If you ever wondered about the real or imagined insidious forces at work in the United States during that period, I highly recommend buying this book.

America is a melting pot, welcoming immigrants with diverse loyalties to a society open to diverse views. As a result, insidious foes can easily live among us, exploiting freedom and being exploited. Read about them and speculate about what we can learn from their stories.
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By R. L. Huff on April 8, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
"We have met the enemy," prophesied Pogo, Walt Kelly's cartoon possum, "and he is us." The fears of enemies within, shared by rulers and ruled, has proven this proverb more than once. Francis MacDonnell explored its ramifications for the US in the fascist era, in its paranoia over the "Fifth Column." The term itself is an era artifact that has lodged permanently in political discourse, referring to the Spanish Civil War and General Mola's hope of an internal, subversive force to match his four insurgent columns marching on Republican, anti-fascist Madrid.

MacDonnell does an overall fine job of exploring the ramifications of this policy. Its most egregious action was the internment of Japanese-Americans, though other "Axis agents" (like Joe DiMaggio's Italian-born father) suffered in the backlash. This was of course a reification of the anti-German war scare of WW I and its sweeping Espionage Act, prefiguring totalitarianism before the term was coined. I do think a more intensive and detailed treatment would have improved the story; but since few have really examined the issue, as it was swallowed by the later Red Scare, as was the WW I hysteria before it, MacDonnell's account remains a definitive source.

Since MacDonnell's focus was on American society of the era, he rather slights its ramifications elsewhere. He treats the impact of Fifth Column activities in Europe, but neglects its most important and violent example - in the USSR during the Great Terror of 1936-39. There it paralleled the course of the Spanish Civil War, in which Moscow was deeply involved, with Stalin using the Fifth Column threat as his excuse for the massive blood purge of the Soviet state.
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By MadManMoo on October 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm entirely biased because I was at Quincy while Fran was there. Try the other reviews for an objective opinion.

Fran, I thoroughly enjoyed it and recalled your discussions of sabotage on the East Coast in WWI.

Hope you're doing great!

Greg
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dustin Pierce on October 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As a former student of Dr. MacDonnel's, I'd have to say that I was biased when I bought this book. After reading it, I am more biased. This is a must-read for anyone interested in U.S. History.
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