1932: The Rise of Hitler and FDR-Two Tales of Politics, Betrayal, and Unlikely Destiny

1932: The Rise of Hitler and FDR-Two Tales of Politics, Betrayal, and Unlikely Destiny

by David Pietrusza


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Two Depression-battered nations confronted destiny in 1932, going to the polls in their own way to anoint new leaders, to rescue their people from starvation and hopelessness. America would elect a Congress and a president—ebullient aristocrat Franklin Roosevelt or tarnished “Wonder Boy” Herbert Hoover. Decadent, divided Weimar Germany faced two rounds of bloody Reichstag elections and two presidential contests—doddering reactionary Paul von Hindenburg against rising radical hate-monger Adolf Hitler.

The outcome seemed foreordained—unstoppable forces advancing upon crumbled, disoriented societies. A merciless Great Depression brought greater—perhaps hopeful, perhaps deadly—transformation: FDR’s New Deal and Hitler’s Third Reich.

But neither outcome was inevitable.

Readers enter the fray through David Pietrusza’s page-turning account: Roosevelt’s fellow Democrats may yet halt him at a deadlocked convention. 1928’s Democratic nominee, Al Smith, harbors a grudge against his one-time protege. Press baron William Randolph Hearst lays his own plans to block Roosevelt’s ascent to the White House. FDR’s politically-inspired juggling of a New York City scandal threatens his juggernaut. In Germany, the Nazis surge at the polls but twice fall short of Reichstag majorities. Hitler, tasting power after a lifetime of failure and obscurity, falls to Hindenburg for the presidency—also twice within the year. Cabals and counter-cabals plot. Secrets of love and suicide haunt Hitler.

Yet guile and ambition may yet still prevail.

1932’s breathtaking narrative covers two epic stories that possess haunting parallels to today’s crisis-filled vortex. It is an all-too-human tale of scapegoats and panaceas, class warfare and racial politics, of a seemingly bottomless depression, of massive unemployment and hardship, of unprecedented public works/infrastructure programs, of business stimulus programs and damaging allegations of political cronyism, of waves of bank failures and of mortgages foreclosed, of Washington bonus marches and Berlin street fights, of once-solid financial empires collapsing seemingly overnight, of rapidly shifting social mores, and of mountains of irresponsible international debt threatening to crash not just mere nations but the entire global economy.

It is the tale of spell-binding leaders versus bland businessmen and out-of-touch upper-class elites and of two nations inching to safety but lurching toward disaster. It is 1932’s nightmare—with lessons for today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781493009442
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 09/01/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 560
Sales rank: 514,300
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

David Pietrusza’s books include 1920: The Year of Six Presidents; Rothstein: The Life, Times, and Murder of the Criminal Genius Who Fixed the 1919 World Series; 1948: Harry Truman’s Improbable Victory and the Year that Transformed America’s Role in the World; and 1960: LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon: The Epic Campaign that Forged Three Presidencies. Rothstein was a finalist for an Edgar Award, and 1920 was honored as by Kirkus as among their “Books of the Year.” Pietrusza has appeared on Good Morning America, Morning Joe, The Voice of America, The History Channel, ESPN, NPR, and C-SPAN. He has spoken at The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, The National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, and various universities and festivals. He lives in Scotia, New York. Visit http://davidpietrusza.com.

Table of Contents

Cast of Characters vii

Major German Political Parties xxi

Chapter 1 "A gentleman cast himself down fifteen stories" 1

Chapter 2 "I won't be ready until 1932" 4

Chapter 3 "Everything should be blown up" 14

Chapter 4 "Miracle Man, Washington, D. C." 26

Chapter 5 "They will remain hanging until they stink" 38

Chapter 6 "He has never consulted me about a damn thing" 58

Chapter 7 "Are you frightened of me?" 69

Chapter 8 "I will take off my coat and vest" 87

Chapter 9 "A poison-painted monkey on a stick" 94

Chapter 10 "The half-witted yokels of the cow and cotton States" 106

Chapter 11 "Dear old man … you must step aside" 119

Chapter 12 "The nomination of this man Hoover is invalid" 131

Chapter 13 "There was little opportunity for air-sickness" 138

Chapter 14 "Dammit, Louis, I'm the nominee!" 149

Chapter 15 "Anti-Semitism may be a good starter …" 170

Chapter 16 "Soup is cheaper than tear bombs" 182

Chapter 17 "He doesn't need a head, his job is to be a hat" 200

Chapter 18 "The sinister faculty of making men like bad government" 212

Chapter 19 "The swine within themselves" 227

Chapter 20 "Climb on the mule" 240

Chapter 21 "Herr Hitler, I will shoot" 259

Chapter 22 "We always call her 'Granny'" 273

Chapter 23 "I saw Hitler cigarettes" 283

Chapter 24 "Vote for Roosevelt and make it unanimous 292

Chapter 25 "A primitive and stupid woman" 310

Chapter 26 "You felt that they would do anything 319

Chapter 27 "Somebody hurled a spittoon" 337

An Epilogue of Blood 356

Acknowledgments 358

Notes and Sources 359

Bibliography 463

Index 491

About the Author 504

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