Hitler's American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law

James Q. Whitman (Author)
Available

Description

How American race law provided a blueprint for Nazi Germany

Nazism triumphed in Germany during the high era of Jim Crow laws in the United States. Did the American regime of racial oppression in any way inspire the Nazis? The unsettling answer is yes. In Hitler's American Model, James Whitman presents a detailed investigation of the American impact on the notorious Nuremberg Laws, the centerpiece anti-Jewish legislation of the Nazi regime. Contrary to those who have insisted that there was no meaningful connection between American and German racial repression, Whitman demonstrates that the Nazis took a real, sustained, significant, and revealing interest in American race policies.

As Whitman shows, the Nuremberg Laws were crafted in an atmosphere of considerable attention to the precedents American race laws had to offer. German praise for American practices, already found in Hitler's Mein Kampf, was continuous throughout the early 1930s, and the most radical Nazi lawyers were eager advocates of the use of American models. But while Jim Crow segregation was one aspect of American law that appealed to Nazi radicals, it was not the most consequential one. Rather, both American citizenship and antimiscegenation laws proved directly relevant to the two principal Nuremberg Laws--the Citizenship Law and the Blood Law. Whitman looks at the ultimate, ugly irony that when Nazis rejected American practices, it was sometimes not because they found them too enlightened, but too harsh.

Indelibly linking American race laws to the shaping of Nazi policies in Germany, Hitler's American Model upends understandings of America's influence on racist practices in the wider world.

Product Details

Price
$24.95  $22.95
Publisher
Princeton University Press
Publish Date
February 21, 2017
Pages
224
Dimensions
5.6 X 1.0 X 8.6 inches | 0.95 pounds
Language
English
Type
Hardcover
EAN/UPC
9780691172422
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

James Q. Whitman is the Ford Foundation Professor of Comparative and Foreign Law at Yale Law School. His books include Harsh Justice, The Origins of Reasonable Doubt, and The Verdict of Battle. He lives in New York City.

Reviews

"Hitler's American Model is a breathtaking excavation of America's shameful contribution to Hitler's genocidal policies. This book is a profound testament to what the past can teach us about the present and is more timely than Whitman could possibly have imagined when he began this remarkable excursion into our nation's original sin and its surprising European legacy. A brilliant page-turner."--Laurence H. Tribe, Harvard Law School
"This is a brilliant, erudite, and disturbing book. By looking at the United States through the eyes of Nazi legal theorists in the 1930s, Whitman contributes to our understanding of this darkest chapter of German legal history. Moreover, he shines a light through this unlikely lens on the worst sins of our own country's past."--Lawrence M. Friedman, author of A History of American Law
"In Hitler's American Model, Whitman tells the deeply troubling story of how Nazi lawyers drew inspiration from the American legal system. He offers a detailed and careful reading of how U.S. immigration laws and antimiscegenation legislation gave the Nazi legal establishment the sense of remaining within the boundaries of respectable jurisprudence. Filled with novel insights, this is a particularly timely book given today's political climate."--Jan T. Gross, author of Neighbors
"This is a critical book for our difficult times. Whitman forces us to see America through Nazi eyes and to realize how profoundly white supremacy has shaped this country. Chilling in its details, the unsettling insights of Hitler's American Model jump from every page. A must-read!"--Eddie S. Glaude, author of Democracy in Black
"This is one of the most engrossing and disturbing pieces of legal history I've read in a long time. Whitman offers a sustained, systematic, and thoughtful look at how Nazi legal theorists and conservative German lawyers drew on American examples when crafting the Nuremberg laws--Germany's contribution to racial madness in the twentieth century. Whitman's book stands apart from, indeed above, everything I've read regarding America's influence on the making of the Nazi state."--Lawrence Powell, Tulane University
"This spellbinding and haunting book shatters claims that American laws related to race and segregation had little to no impact on the shaping of Nazi policies. Whitman's readings of the Nuremberg laws and Nazi legal scholarship are astonishing--nimble, sophisticated, and nuanced. Speaking volumes, this book will change the way we think about Jim Crow, Nazis, and America's role in the world."--Daniel J. Sharfstein, author of The Invisible Line: A Secret History of Race in America
"An important book every American should read."---DontΓ© Stallworth,
"A crucial read right now."---Jelani Cobb,
"The uncomfortable truth is that Nazi policy was itself influenced by American white supremacy, a heritage well documented in James Q. Whitman's recent book Hitler's American Model."---Sasha Chapin, New York Times Magazine
"Eerie. . . . [Whitman] illustrates how German propagandists sought to normalize the Nazi agenda domestically by putting forth the United States as a model."---Brent Staples, New York Times
"Among recent books on Nazism, the one that may prove most disquieting for American readers is James Q. Whitman's Hitler's American Model. . . . Whitman methodically explores how the Nazis took inspiration from American racism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries."---Alex Ross, New Yorker
"Timely. . . . His short book raises important questions about law, about political decisions that affect the scope of civic membership, and about the malleability of Enlightenment values. . . . We must come to terms with race in America in tandem with considerations of democracy. Whitman's history does not expose the liberal tradition in the United States as merely a sham, as many of the Third Reich's legal theorists intimated when they highlighted patterns of black and American Indian subordination. Rather, he implicitly challenges readers to consider when and how, under what conditions and in which domains, the ugly features of racism have come most saliently to the fore in America's liberal democracy."---Ira Katznelson, The Atlantic
"To get to the core of race in America today, read this new book by James Whitman. . . . Prepare to be startled. . . . Scholars and historians have argued for years about whether American's own regime of racial oppression in any way inspired the Nazis. Not only does Whitman throw a bright light on the debate, to this reader he settles it once and for all. Carefully written and tightly reasoned, backed up every step of the way with considered evidence and logic, Whitman reminds us that today is yesterday's child, and that certain strains of DNA persist from one generation to another."---Bill Moyers, BillMoyers.com,
"In his startling new history, Whitman traces the substantial influence of American race laws on the Third Reich. The book, in effect, is a portrait of the United States assembled from the admiring notes of Nazi lawmakers, who routinely referenced American policies in the design of their own racist regime. . . . Whitman's book contributes to a growing recognition of American influences on Nazi thought."---Jeff Guo, Washington Post
"Stunningly well-timed."---Tim Stanley, Daily Telegraph
"Hitler's American Model delivers a powerful and timely reminder that it is not only liberal legal orders that look abroad for normative instruction. Profoundly illiberal law travels just as well as liberal law."---Lawrence Douglas, Times Literary Supplement
"A small book, but powerful all out of proportion to its size in exposing a shameful history."--Kirkus
"[This] new history argues convincingly that institutionalized racism and common-law pragmatism in the United States inspired Hitler's policies. . . . Historians have downplayed the connection between Nazi race law and America because America was mainly interested in denying full citizenship rights to blacks rather than Jews. But Whitman's adroit scholarly detective work has proved that in the mid-'30s Nazi jurists and politicians turned again and again to the way the United States had deprived African-Americans of the right to vote and to marry whites. They were fascinated by the way the United States had turned millions of people into second-class citizens."---David Mikics, Tablet Magazine
"Hitler's American Model is overall, an erudite, well-researched, and thought-provoking study that raises important questions about America's laws - and leaders - in the not-so-distant past."---Rafael Medoff, Haaretz
"Through intensive scrutiny of German language transcripts and other primary sources that he translated himself, Yale Law School professor James Whitman develops a story in Hitler's American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law of unintended American inspiration for the infamous Nazi anti-Jewish laws. It's a story that will shock readers."---David Wecht, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Whitman argues convincingly that American jurisprudence-federal and state alike-provided both inspiration and a model for the most radical Nazi lawyers."---Matthew Harwood, Reason
"In Hitler's American Model, Yale Law School Professor James Q. Whitman makes a credible case for his assertion that, by the 1930s, 'America was the obvious preeminent example of a 'race state'."--The American Interest
"The accepted assumption is that Nazism was the creator and master of the murderous enterprise, while the United States went to war to destroy it. Given such traditional impressions, Whitman tries to show that the racist legal activities against blacks in the United States, mostly in the South, provided inspiration for the Nazis, though they didn't influence the German anti-Jewish legislation."---Oded Heilbronner, Haaretz
"Historians of the twentieth century often represent the New Deal-era United States and Nazi Germany as polar opposites. This unsettling book demolishes that orthodoxy. . . . Whitman is admirably careful not to exaggerate the influence of the U.S. model on Nazi Germany: he recognizes that twentieth-century American southern racism was decentralized rather than fascist and incapable of inspiring mass murder on the industrial scale of the Holocaust. Indeed, Nazi jurists criticized their American counterparts for their hypocrisy in publicly denying yet locally practicing systematic racism. Whitman reminds readers of the subtle ironies of modern history and of the need to be constantly vigilant against racism."---Andrew Moravcsik, Foreign Affairs
"Whitman blends his keen sense of legal reasoning with an impressive depth of historical knowledge, resulting in a passionate argument for our own time. . . . Readers will be gratified as they wend their way thorough [this book], asking questions that Whitman seems to have anticipated and subsequently addressed."---Michael H. Traison, Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs
"The admiration for American immigration policy expressed in Mein Kampf was not a passing thought on the day's news . . . nor a one-off remark. Its place in the full context of Nazi theory and practice comes into view in Hitler's American Model. . . . Many people will take the very title as an affront. But it's the historical reality the book discloses that proves much harder to digest. The author does not seem prone to sensationalism. The argument is made in two succinct, cogent and copiously documented chapters, prefaced and followed with remarks that remain within the cooler temperatures of expressed opinion."---Scott McLemee, InsideHigherEd.com,
"Interesting and eye opening. . . . In spite of the Nazis' disdain, to put it mildly, for our stated and evident liberal and democratic principles, they eagerly looked to the United States as the prime example for their own goals of protecting the blood, restricting citizenship, and banning mixed marriages. Reading this book could make many Americans doubt the possibility of ever forming a more perfect union with such a legacy."---Thomas McClung, New York Journal of Books
"Whitman's book is not simply a history of the appalling treatment meted out to African-Americans in the southern states. He points out that by the late 1870s, US immigration and naturalisation law had become more racist, in particular against Asians."---Charlie Hegarty, Catholic Herald
"Whitman's bracing and well-researched account should remind us that the nativism and racism on the rise in America today are in no way foreign to our traditions. Nor have they belonged mainly to the unwashed and poorly educated. On the contrary, it is only in the middle of the last century that the idea of racial equality began to enter the mainstream, and only in the post-civil rights era that at least some lip service to that ideal became mandatory in polite circles."---Jessica Blatt, Public Books
"Few efforts manage to elucidate with such level of clarity of purpose and rigorous scholarly research the historical threats to our American experiment as James Q. Whitman's Hitler's American Model. . . . This is an essential, alarming read for every student of American democracy, and for any person who cares about the fate of humanity in an experiment which has significant roots in a supremacist rot that is poisonous to its branches of government. While it does a superb job with the history, it also propounds the means by which that experiment may yet fail in the future."---Michael Workman, Rain Taxi
"While Whitman's book is a slim one, only two chapters spread over 161 pages, it is a narratively interesting one and quite readable."---Michael J. Kelly, International Dialogue
"Whitman's method is both of a legal historian and comparative lawyer and his book offers a clear and well-documented account of the history of Nazi law, by exploring the context of elaboration of the Nuremberg Laws. Also, it is a significant example of how comparative law works in practice--not simply imitating statutes, but by gradual transplants of legal ideas, later adapted and developed by national legislations."---Jair Santos, Politics, Religion & Ideology
"One of Foreign Affairs Best of Books 2017 - Economic, Social, and Environment / Finance"