Thursday, September 19, 2013

What is Arnie Bernstein reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Arnie Bernstein, author of Swastika Nation: Fritz Kuhn and the Rise and Fall of the German-American Bund.

His entry begins:
I have eclectic tastes in reading, and always seem to be juggling multiple books, depending on mood, latest passion, and time. Since I’m a nonfiction writer, I mostly stick to biography and history, which is fine by me since those have always been my favorite kinds of books since childhood. On the other hand, this summer I resolved to start reading some fiction again. Fiction writing techniques are vital to good nonfiction. I want my words to come alive on the page, and novels often do that far better than dry historical accounts. Delving back into fiction has given me great insight into how other writers get their voice on the page, which helped enlighten my own work. So what am I reading at the moment or in recent past?

Insurgent Mexico by John Reed.

Most modern audiences know Reed from Warren Beatty’s epic biopic Reds. He picked a great character. John Reed was a vibrant and hard working writer of the early 20th century who pioneered the kind of participatory journalism we take for granted today. Insurgent Mexico is a series of dispatches Reed wrote from the field for The Masses magazine during the Mexican Revolution, compiled into book form. He was on the front lines, riding with Pancho Villa and foot soldiers alike, spending nights with local peasants; bonding with them over bullets dodged, tequila consumed, tortillas eaten, and card games won and lost. The writing is vivid and exciting. You can feel the desert heat, see the bright colors of the blooming cactuses, and...[read on]
About Swastika Nation, from the publisher:
In the late 1930s, the German–American Bund, led by its popinjay dictator Fritz Kuhn, was a small but powerful national movement, determined to conquer the United States government with a fascist dictatorship. They met in private social halls and beer garden backrooms, gathered at private resorts and public rallies, developed their own version of the SS and Hitler Youth, published a national newspaper and—for a brief moment of their own imagined glory—seemed poised to make an impact on American politics.

But while the American Nazi leadership dreamed of their Swastika Nation, an amalgamation of politicians, a rising legal star, an ego-charged newspaper columnist, and denizens of the criminal underworld utilized their respective means and muscle to bring down the movement and its dreams of a United Reich States.

Swastika Nation by Arnie Bernstein is a story of bad guys, good guys, and a few guys who fell somewhere in-between. The rise and fall of Fritz Kuhn and his German-American Bund at the hands of these disparate fighters is a sometimes funny, sometimes harrowing, and always compelling story from start to finish.
Learn more about the book and author at Arnie Bernstein's website.

Writers Read: Arnie Bernstein.

--Marshal Zeringue