The best about the perils of fascism

David Hanna Author Of Broken Icarus: The 1933 Chicago World's Fair, the Golden Age of Aviation, and the Rise of Fascism
By David Hanna

Who am I?

I've found the creep of authoritarianism to be very disquieting. One would have to be willfully blind to not see its manifestations both here and abroad. I wanted to better understand how this phenomenon cast its shadow over the world and I found the '33 Chicago World's Fair an ideal lens to view this through. I've been fascinated by world's fairs since I was a child and the '33 Fair was the first to consciously feature the future. I'm also strangely drawn to this period – if I believed in reincarnation it might provide answers, but I don't. The Zeitgeist just before the full, brutal ugliness of fascism broke over the world, fascinates me.


I wrote...

Broken Icarus: The 1933 Chicago World's Fair, the Golden Age of Aviation, and the Rise of Fascism

By David Hanna,

Book cover of Broken Icarus: The 1933 Chicago World's Fair, the Golden Age of Aviation, and the Rise of Fascism

What is my book about?

In Broken Icarus, author David Hanna tracks the inspiring trajectory of aviation leading up to and through the World’s Fair of 1933, as well as the field of flight’s more sinister ties to fascism domestic and abroad to present a unique history that is both riveting and revelatory.

“Interweaving colorful anecdotes and incisive cultural analysis, this entertaining history strikes a cautionary note about the promise and peril of technology.” - review in Publishers Weekly

The books I picked & why

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The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany

By William L. Shirer,

Book cover of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany

Why this book?

The first half of the book is like watching a slow-motion car wreck. There were so many missed opportunities to stop Hitler before he did his worst, I wanted to shout ‘Stop this guy before it’s too late!’ Alas… Shirer was our man in Vienna and Berlin from the late 1920s-early 1940s, which adds an intimacy to his words that I find lacking in other similar accounts.


The Plot Against America: A Novel

By Philip Roth,

Book cover of The Plot Against America: A Novel

Why this book?

I had this book recommended to me by a student. It’s counter-factual historical fiction, but all too believable. Roth conveys a sense of creeping dread that feels uncomfortably familiar in the 2020s. Charles Lindbergh’s role in the story is central, as his America Firsters take over the Republican Party, and then the country.


The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s

By Piers Brendon,

Book cover of The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s

Why this book?

Brendon’s Magnus opus on the 1930s is both comprehensive and full of the telling anecdote. I found this to be one of the most informative, and best written, works of history that I have ever read. I can’t recommend it strongly enough, whether you’re researching this period or just looking for a very good book to read.


Bread and Wine

By Ignazio Silone,

Book cover of Bread and Wine

Why this book?

This famous novel tells the story from the other side, a socialist on the run, in fascist Italy. Certain unforgettable scenes portray the bullying and humiliation at the core of fascism and its human cost. I first read this in college, then re-read it when I was conducting research on Mussolini’s Italy.


Parallel Journeys

By Eleanor H. Ayer,

Book cover of Parallel Journeys

Why this book?

This is a book written for adolescents that everybody should read. Alfons Heck (a former member of the Hitler Youth) and Helen Waterford (a Holocaust survivor) recount their stories to Ayer. It is Heck, though, who provides crucial insight into how totalitarian leaders gain control of whole generations and use them to achieve their wicked aims – a form of mass child abuse.


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