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Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream Hardcover – May 12, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Journalist Zeskind delivers a thorough, if scattered, dossier on white nationalist politics in America from the end of WWII to the present, focusing closely on three plotters on the fringe of the American mainstream: Willis Carto, William Pierce and David Duke. Among the book's dizzying investigations of neo-Confederates, skinheads, survivalists, tax protestors, Second Amendment nuts and anti-Semites, these three men loom largest as the provocateurs and grandfathers of racist politics. Drawing on writings from Oswald Spengler and Francis Parker Yockey, these white nationalists constructed a narrative about the death of Western civilization, where white nationalists are patriotic race warriors hawking their ideas at gun shows, in print and in online forums. With the breadth of an encyclopedia, this book features a staggering number of actors, publications, flashpoints and organizations, such as the Posse Comitatus movement, which denies all of the Constitution's amendments after the 14th, prints community money and seeks independence from ZOG (the Zionist Occupation Government). Zeskind's rigorously researched and eloquent book is a definitive history of white nationalism and contains alarming warnings for a resurgence in racist politics. (May)
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“Nobody knows more about the movements that spawned the alleged gunmen than Leonard Zeskind, who has spent most of a lifetime observing, analyzing and opposing racism and anti-Semitism in America and abroad. Now he has distilled those hard and dangerous decades of work into Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream, a magisterial new book that explains how and why racial hatred became and remains a significant political force in American society.” —Joe Conason, Salon
“Zeskind tracks the white supremacist impulse, as embodied in various groups since the mid-1970s, in chronological fashion. He analyzes every twist, turn and rivalry . . . Readers will be exposed to groups including skinheads, Christian Identity adherents and Ku Kluxers; individuals such as David Duke, Patrick Buchanan and Pat Robertson; and also to ‘cadres’ . . . driven by racism, anti-Semitism, opposition to abortion, antipathy toward homosexuality, hatred of the federal government (and especially the Internal Revenue Service), gun-rights activism, millennial beliefs, anti-immigrant fervor and a taste for Holocaust denial. Given such diversity, if Zeskind had not provided connective tissue showing significant contacts between groups and cross-pollination over time, Blood and Politics would seem merely a compendium of relatively fringe groups and their leaders . . . And yet there is continuity too among the figures Zeskind follows.” —Art Winslow, Los Angeles Times
“Leonard Zeskind’s staggering, painstakingly researched report on the last three decades of American bigotry dramatizes the back story to the recent upsurge in this septic politics . . . Zeskind’s encyclopedic book reveals the shadow history contemporaneous with the march of civil rights and is essential to the understanding of our present moment. Obama’s presidency heralds a new stage in America’s engagement with the color line, but as both Blood and Politics and the recent enlistment in the armies of racial purity attest, nothing in the world is single.” —Michael Washburn, The Boston Globe
“[An] authoritative, readable overview . . . Clearly the best, broadest and deepest historical study of the white nationalist movement yet . . . While it has been in preparation for more than 15 years, the publication of Blood and Politics is timely. America has a black president, and demographers are predicting that whites will cease to be a majority in the U.S. by 2035. Those of us dedicated to a multicultural democracy ignore the seriousness of the white-nationalist threat to domestic peace at our peril. We’re fortunate to have Blood and Politics as a solemn reminder.” —Rick Hellman, Moment
“Leonard Zeskind deserves our gratitude for his lifelong commitment to the battle against the international racist underworld. He combines the skill and zeal of the investigative reporter with the shrewd perspective of the historian. In this magisterial work, Zeskind identifies the leaders, politics, and strategies of that dangerous movement with great literary skill—and explains why the perils they represent remain alive in a new century.” —Joe Conason, author of It Can Happen Here
“Leonard Zeskind takes us into a sprawling and shadowy world of racist leaders and their communities to give the definitive account of how racial hatred became a powerful movement in the late twentieth century and what it means for today’s multicultural society. A must-read.” —Kathleen Blee, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, University of Pittsburgh
“An authoritative tour through the shifting currents of the American radical right over the last three decades. Filled with keen insights about the interaction between this movement and historical developments shaping the larger world, Blood and Politics is a prescient warning about a movement that promises to haunt us for generations to come.” —Mark Potok, Director, Intelligence Project, Southern Poverty Law Center
“Wow! Leonard Zeskind’s cogent analysis of the white nationalist movement is breathtaking in scope. From one of our most knowledgeable minds on the subject, Blood and Politics presents the big picture, supported by meticulous detail and analysis, and should be required reading.” —Abby Ferber, Professor of Sociology, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
“One of America’s greatest strengths—its diversity—is in danger of being sapped by modern racism. Leonard Zeskind has spent a lifetime studying this danger, and his book is essential to our understanding and response.” —John Shattuck , CEO, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation
“For decades, every journalist and academic reeling from the latest eruption of the far right into national politics has turned first and foremost to Leonard Zeskind. Between the names, dates, and places in his unrivalled archives and the deep understanding forged in more than thirty years of research, activism, and reflection, he sees far more clearly even than the white nationalist movement itself where it has been and where it is going. Blood and Politics is a singular contribution to American history and politics. There will never be—never could be—another book like it.”—Elinor Langer, author of A Hundred Little Hitlers: The Death of a Black Man, the Trial of a White Racist, and the Rise of the Neo-Nazi Movement in America
“For years, Leonard Zeskind has tracked the racist far right, from re-emergence of the Klan to the Oklahoma City bombing, and Blood and Politics is an invaluable guide for anyone seeking to understand how the margins of political life affect the American mainstream. This book is a long awaited event.”—Jim Ridgeway, author of Blood in the Face
“Zeskind offers a well-placed warning that the racist right still has plenty of causes left, many wrapped up in the long-simmering nativist, anti-immigration movement.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Zeskind’s rigorously researched and eloquent book is a definitive history of white nationalism and contains alarming warnings for a resurgence in racist politics.” —Publishers Weekly
“Recommended for all libraries.” —Stephen L. Hupp, Library Journal
“An activist who has shadowed white supremacists and anti-Semites for The New York Times and other publications, Zeskind has stuffed a fat bundle of information into 600 pages.” —David Luhrssen, Shepherd Express
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Reading this book makes it easier to understand some of the things that are happening in this country of ours. The anxiety about immigration, the lies about the health care bill, really all refer back to one thing, which Zeskind zeroes in on superbly well. Understanding these guys means you understand the Sarah Palins, the Rush Limbaughs and the Pat Buchanans that much more easily.
That being said, the author is obviously an expert on the subject, and this book is incredibly useful to have around as a reference. Just could use a few more bells and whistles to make it approachable.
And along with some interesting chronological detail about the events and people he also gives some interesting information as to the system of beliefs, explaining, for the first time I've seen, some of the doctrinal details of Christian Identity "theology".
Only a couple of weak spots. The first one I hesitate to call that because there is so much other detail, but he spends a good bit of the book relating the players in the movement and the events back to Willis Carto of Liberty Lobby and William Pierce. Those details are valuable and insightful but that focus seemed to leave out other elements, such as the American Nazi Party(ies) developments and the skinhead movement. In an already lengthy book with so much other information, as I said, this is pretty minor.
The second problem is more substantive, in my opinion. The author's liberal biases showed through in his efforts, which are actually pretty rare so far in the book, to tie genuine conservatives, Reagan and his Administration in particular to this movement which they rightfully loathed. I'm also no big fan of Pat Robertson, who gives me the creeps, but I don't believe Robertson has any sympathies with these elements but the author here tries to attach them via innuendo. McCarthyism was supposedly an affliction of the Right but the author dabbles in it from the Left. Again, he has spent very little time so far in doing this but the efforts are clear.
Without a doubt, though, if you want to understand this movement, especially the last 30+ years, which is it's focus, this book is a must-have.