The Agitator: William Bailey and the First American Uprising against Nazism by Peter Duffy is a short biography of William Bailey, an American who stood his ground against Hitler’s Germany at a time when the US was solidly neutral. Mr. Duffy is a historian and journalist.
- 288 pages
- Publisher: PublicAffairs
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1541762312
The main event that The Agitator: William Bailey and the First American Uprising against Nazism by Peter Duffy centers around is a protest against the Third Reich which took place in July of 1935. A group of Communist Party members, led by Bill Bailey, crashed a reception on the SS Bremen, a huge German luxury liner, tore down the swastika flag and threw it into the New York Harbor.
Mr. Duffy places the events of that day, and the life of Mr. Bailey, in context of the times and his socio-economic status. Bill Bailey came from “a destitute Irish family”, he spent time in juvenile jail, grew up in a slum, and as a result developed a political ideology and a strong conscious.
The book juxtaposes between the biography of Mr. Bailey and the downfall of Germany to the Nazi party. While the protest on the SS Bremen was taken place, the pogroms in Berlin and Germany against the Jews were growing stronger, it’s disconcerting how polished politicians missed all the signs, or worst, they didn’t.
The book is short, and very readable. Reading about the protest of one group (focused on one man), while bigger events were taking place is a fascinating read. Mr. Bailey went on the live an unapologetic life, defying the House Un-American Activities Committee and at some point, capitalizing on his short lived fame by becoming an actor.
Zohar — Man of la Book
Disclaimer: I borrowed this book for free.
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