Two new books of note

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Aug 8 18:44:49 MDT 2003


The American Axis: Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, and the Rise of the Third
Reich
By Max Wallace

ISBN: 0312290225
Format: Hardcover, 416pp
Pub. Date: July 2003  Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Barnes & Noble Sales Rank: 341,138

Kirkus Reviews
Whisper an antiwar sentiment today, and you're branded a traitor. Hinder
the Allied war effort and champion the Nazi cause, as did a captain of
industry and a pioneer of aviation, and you'll be remembered as a hero. So
Wallace, a researcher for Steven Spielberg's Shoah Project, demonstrates in
this eye-opening if sometimes circumstantial account of automaker Henry
Ford's and pilot Charles Lindbergh's multifaceted dealings with the Hitler
regime. Ford was singularly instrumental, Wallace charges, with Hitler's
rise; not only did Hitler and other Nazis credit their conversion to
anti-Semitism in part to Ford's scurrilous The International Jew, but Ford
also funded the early Nazi party unstintingly and, knowingly or not, gave
Nazi operatives access to manufacturing specifications and other documents
at least until America entered the war. Hitler himself said, "I regard
Henry Ford as my inspiration," not least for providing a model of mass
production for the Nazi killing machine. Direct evidence of Ford's
financial role in bringing Hitler to power is scanty, Wallace writes, "a
significant amount of the [Ford Motor] company's early days-particularly
material pertaining to Ford's anti-Semitism" having been carefully
discarded. Lindbergh, famed for his transatlantic solo flight, brought
pseudoscientific theories of eugenics to his own admiration for the Nazi
regime, and the Nazis reciprocated by depicting the blond, blue-eyed
Lindbergh as the exemplar of Aryan manhood. Strangely, by Wallace's
account, both men seemed mystified when the Roosevelt administration did
not court their services at the outbreak of WWII, on which occasion Ford
remarked, "The whole thing has just been made up by Jewbankers." Though
Lindbergh served as a consultant to Ford in the development of the B-24
bomber, he was unable to gain a military commission-and for good reason,
inasmuch as even in 1945 he was publicly lamenting the destruction of
Germany, a civilization that "was basically our own, stemming from the same
Christian beliefs." A finely wrought, careful, and utterly damning case
that ought to prompt a widespread reevaluation of both Ford and Lindbergh.

====

Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest
By Matthew Restall

ISBN: 0195160770
Format: Hardcover, 218pp
Pub. Date: July 2003

Kirkus Reviews
Provocative if dry essay in New World historiography, gainsaying a large
body of received wisdom. Over the last half-century, many writers on the
Spanish conquest of the Americas have confronted such thorny problems as
the Black Legend and the demography of the pre-Columbian hemisphere,
dispelling once-prevailing notions about, for example, why Coronado found
so few Indians on his trip across the Great Plains and why Montezuma's
Mexico fell so quickly to Cortez and company. But many of those notions
remain, writes Restall (History/Penn. State Univ.), even in such
contemporary texts as the supposedly iconoclastic works of Tzvetan Todorov
and Kirkpatrick Sale. Using the word loosely enough to give folklorists
fits, Restall brands as "myth" the idea, for instance, that a mere handful
of conquistadors took down Mexico and Peru, and the concomitant canard that
the Indians thought that the Spanish were strange gods from across the sea.
The Spanish were indeed few, he acknowledges, but backed by great numbers
of Indian allies and, more to the point, by non-Spanish conquistadors,
particularly black Africans like Juan Garcia, who hauled a comfortable
amount of gold to Spain from Peru and lived well thereafter. "There was no
apotheosis," he adds, "no 'belief that the Spaniards are gods,' and no
resulting native paralysis." Some of these myths, Restall holds, came from
the pens of Columbus and certain of his contemporaries, who had an
understandable interest in promoting themselves as lone heroes; others came
from the likes of Washington Irving, whose romantic views of Columbus the
visionary entered the historical record in the 19th century and have been
hard to root out ever since. Restall's alternative history of the Conquest
emphasizes the multiethnic nature of the newcomers and the practicality of
those who ceded land and wealth to them. For specialists, mainly, though
useful to those interested in how empires-and myths-are made.



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