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Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt's America, Mussolini's Italy, and Hitler's Germany, 1933-1939

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Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt's America, Mussolini's Italy, and Hitler's Germany, 1933-1939 [Paperback]

Wolfgang Schivelbusch
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 27, 2007

Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal is regarded today as the democratic ideal, a triumphant American response to a crisis that forced Germany and Italy toward National Socialism and Fascism. Yet in the 1930s, before World War II, the regimes of Roosevelt, Mussolini, and Hitler bore fundamental similarities. In this groundbreaking work, Wolfgang Schivelbusch investigates the shared elements of these three "new deals"--focusing on their architecture and public works projects--to offer a new explanation for the popularity of Europe's totalitarian systems. Writing with flair and concision, Schivelbusch casts a different light on the New Deal and puts forth a provocative explanation for the still-mysterious popularity of Europe's most tyrannical regimes.

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Editorial Reviews


“Controversial, well written, and convincing, this is historical analysis at its most invigorating.” ―Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Schivelbusch is a brilliant cultural historian . . . who brings a comparative cultural focus to the 1930s with fascinating and provocative ideas.” ―Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Illuminating.” ―Bloomberg News

“A feast of ideas, many of them strikingly appropriate to our own bellicose times.” ―San Francisco Chronicle on The Culture of Defeat

“Fresh and provocative . . . A novel and thought-provoking book.” ―Houston Chronicle on The Culture of Defeat

About the Author

Wolfgang Schivelbusch is an independent scholar who divides his time between New York and Berlin. His books include The Railway Journey, Disenchanted Night, and Tastes of Paradise.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 1st edition (November 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312427433
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312427436
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #669,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews
54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest, Insightful and Thought Provoking September 26, 2006
Mr. Schivelbusch, in this remarkably well researched and startling book draws parallels between the programs and leadership styles of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Franklin Roosevelt. He shows how many similarities there were to be found between each of these very different men. His purpose is not to demonize FDR, excuse the Nazis and Fascists or even to mitigate the failure of the average German and Italian to stand up their leaders. It is, rather, to provide a warning to the future that populism can shift from the benign to the monstrous. It is must reading for the general reader.

Having been a fan of Mr Schivelbusch's varied work for many years, I recently had the opportunity to dine with him at the home of friends of mine. I was interested to learn that he was a man of the Left, whose views were very different from mine. It is a tribute to his ability as a scholar that I never would have guessed his affiliations. He follows the truth where he finds it and never lets his own biases seep into his work.

He is a careful and diligent researcher. By way of example, T. Harry Williams' Pulitzer Prize winning biography of Huey Long merely casts doubt on those who attribute to Long the most famous of his quotes to the effect that "when Fascism comes to America, it will come in the guise of anti-Fascism." Williams does not make any serious attempt to track down the origin of the attribution, something you would expect from the author of a nearly 1000 page biography. In this short work, in a learned and careful footnote, Schivelbusch offers a variety of possible sources for this quote. THAT is careful research!

I highly recommend Three New Deals.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly brilliant book! January 25, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a truly brilliant book. It highlights the fact that political and economic crises often produce similar results, specifically a centralization of state power. Some people may not like this book because it suggests similarities between Roosevelt's New Deal and Fascism. However, the point here is not to suggest Roosevelt was racist or antisemitic (a totally idiotic notion) but to focus on the much larger issue of the use of state power in a crisis. The book has important lessons for the future. The current world order is doing a very poor job is dealing with deadly threats like the global environmental crisis. In a new series of world crises there is likely to be a huge centralization of power. Albert Speer once observed that when fascism comes back, it will come back as anti-fascism. The larger issue here is totalitarianism and its potential role in the world future.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and informative book November 17, 2008
"Three New Deals" is an interesting book about the similarities and differences between FDR's New Deal, Mussolini's fascism, and Hitler's fascism. Certainly all three were different from one another. But it's quite an eye-opener to read about the mutual admiration across the three in the 1930s, particularly between some of FDR's advisors and the Mussolini camp. This is also a relatively short book; a quick read that doesn't belabor the point or wear out its welcome. Those with an interest in politics or WWII history will be interested in at least checking this out from the library.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars comparison of 3 political cultures December 28, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Schivelbusch is an excellent analyst of political culture. He compares Roosevelt's new deal with Mussolini's Fascism and Hitler's National Socialism. The book is not a smear of Roosevelt, but rather an examination of how the prevailing political ideals of rationality and organization were implemented in the three countries. There is also thoughtful analysis of the use of media, radio in the US and rallies in Europe.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spooky paralells December 21, 2011
Wolfgang Schivelbusch presents an interesting argument over 189 pages plus an extensive index regarding the parallels of the governments of Franklin Roosevelt's America, Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy. The author goes through great lengths to state that FDR was not the monster that Hitler and Mussolini were. Nevertheless, each dealt with the effects of the Great Depression in similar ways. Schivelbusch states that all three had great leadership skills to convey their messages to the masses. Hitler and Mussolini used mass rallies to stoke the people while FDR used the power of radio to assure his audience through the difficult times. Each leader effectively used propaganda to their benefit. Germany used its sources effectively through the efforts of Goebbels by stating that the state needed to diagnose the soul of the people and assess its needs. Both Germany and the America used symbols to convey their programs including America's use of the NRA's Blue Eagle campaign which used rallies and draconian codes to "psych" the populace into compliance.

Each country used a "back to the land" campaign whereby all of the countries thought that capitalism cause men to flock to the cities and lose their soul. An urging to return people to the country to farm the land and build mini-factories to encourage self-sufficiency on a small scale away from the large cities. America engaged in a failed experiment by building a model town of Arthurdale, West Virginia which illustrated its efforts of putting its"small is beautiful" philosophy into practice. Finally, the author compares each country's creation of public works to get the people back to work. Hitler's Autobahn, Mussolini's draining of the Pontine Marshes and FDR's TVA project are compared.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars It was a good try
This book read well and had useful information; however, it was just the tip of the iceberg. The book was simply too short. Read more
Published on November 1, 2012 by Daniel L. Wilson
4.0 out of 5 stars A brief comparison of poltics in Germany, U.S.A. and Italy in the...
I must agree with Brian Ferril's analysis of this book for the very reasons he gave. I would have much rather read quotes of the "average person" in Italy, Germany, and USA in the... Read more
Published on May 26, 2012 by Terry Jennrich
1.0 out of 5 stars confusing
THis is a difficult book to understand too much unnecessary information. Plus i think the author did a poor job explain most of the events .
Published on July 4, 2011 by Alle
2.0 out of 5 stars "Reflections" lacks a personal perspective; a clinical, political...
Considering how many new releases and classics I've enjoyed over the last year, I guess it was to be expected that I'd run into a book that felt like a bit of a letdown. Read more
Published on June 3, 2010 by Brian C. Ferry
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, terrible edition
Schivelbusch puts together a fascinating argument about the commonalities between Roosevelt, Hitler, and Mussolini, but the Kindle edition has lots of awkward typographical and... Read more
Published on March 20, 2010 by Anna Johns
4.0 out of 5 stars Good analogy
This book was obviously the predecessor to Jonah Goldman's best selling 'Liberal Fascism.' This is a quick study of reviewing governmental trends in the early 20th Century in... Read more
Published on March 15, 2010 by Dirk Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking analysis although strained at times
As others have pointed out, this is a well-researched, thoughtful and provocative analysis of the similarities (as well as some of the differences) between the Three New Deals. Read more
Published on February 1, 2009 by The Creature
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Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt's America, Mussolini's Italy, and Hitler's Germany, 1933-1939
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