Steve Ross, Hitler, Los Angeles discussed on Jewish History Matters


Welcome to Jewish history matters. I'm Jason Los dig and I'm pleased to welcome Steve Ross to the podcast today to talk about his book Hitler in Los Angeles within the context of the history of fascism in the US as well as our own present moment. Steve Ross is professor of history at USC where he's also the director of the cast an institute for the study of the Jewish role in American life. He's written widely on working class history. Social history film history and political history and his book Hitler in Los Angeles. Which we'll talk about today was named finalist for the Pulitzer prize in history for twenty eighteen. Steph's book highlights what is usually kind of the topic of an alternate history. Meaning what if or what could have happened could Nazism and fascism really have risen in the US? And he makes the case in a way that it was a real threat. He looks at a range of figures and groups both Jews and non-jews who actively tried to thwart the development of Nazism pro Nazi and fascist groups in L A, and he really center is and focuses on Leon Lewis, a Jewish lawyer leader of the Anti-Defamation League and spymaster whose colleagues infiltrated and undermined the various efforts and plots of Nazi and fascist groups in LA. It's a riveting story, which has unfortunately important lessons to teach us today. So I'm pleased to share this conversation with. Steve about the tremendous story of Hitler in Los Angeles. The history of fascist and pro Nazi groups and LA the real threat the fascism posed in the US in the nineteen thirties and forties, and what it teaches us. Unfortunately about our present moment. Before we begin. I want to take just a second to. Thank you for subscribing. If you aren't yet a subscriber to the Jewish history matters podcast, you can just head to Jewish history dot FM slash subscribe. And you'll get the newest episodes delivered straightaway. We published new episodes every two weeks and have a lot of great guests topics coming down the pipeline. You can also check out the show notes or just go to our website Jewish history dot FM slash Hitler in LA to see a transcript of our conversation. And also links to information about some of the people we talked about today. Anyway, we'll jump into the conversation with Steve now. So thanks again for listening. So hi, Steve, welcome to the podcast. Jason thanks from biting me. I'm so glad that you're able to join us. I think that this book excavates, a really fascinating story one that I think as we'll get into has been gaining a lot of attention in particular. Because of you know, the world in which we are currently living. But I want to get to that later. I think that maybe one place for us to get started is to think a little bit about the broader cultural moment in which this book sort of finds itself in terms of popular culture, which is to say that I think that if we look very broadly in popular culture, there's often kind of a what if counterfactual history that appears about Nazis in America and fascism in the US, whether we look at a book like the plot against America or more recently, you know, the TV show on Amazon the man in the high castle, you know, we actually had a whole episode about counterfactual history last year with Gabrielle Rosenfeld. It's really interesting the way in which people are often asking, you know, what if things had gone differently or could fascism have come to power in the US, but this kind of fictional in a way, right? Like if you look at Philip Roth or any other number of instances where people have posed this kind of a question. But when you're presenting in the book is

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