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Hitler's American Model - The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law
James Q. Whitman
Princeton University Press
UK Publication Date

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.

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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.

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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,,

"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

"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

"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

Country of Publication
New Jersey
Number of Pages

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