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Soldiers of Labor
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Book description

Originally published in 2005, Soldiers of Labor is a systematic comparison between the labor policies of the Nazi dictatorship and New Deal America. The main subject of the book is the Nazi Labor Service (Reichsarbeitsdienst), a public work scheme that provided work and education for young men. Here, the organizational setup, the educational dimension, and its practical work are extensively examined. Originally, the institution was an instrument in the fight against unemployment at the end of the Weimar Republic. After 1933, it became a Nazi propaganda tool that ultimately became involved in the Nazi's war of extermination. This study examines the similarities and differences, the mutual perceptions, and transfers between the Nazi Labor Service and its New Deal equivalent, the Civilian Conservation Corps. Patel uncovers stunning similarities between the two organizations, as well as President Roosevelt's irritating personal interest in the Nazi equivalent of his pet agency, the CCC.

Reviews

"Soldiers of Labor is a welcome addition to the growing body of literature in the field of transnational history. It sets remarkably high standards regarding methods of historical comparison."
- The Journal of American History, Olaf Stieglitz, University of Cologne Colgne, Germany

"Patel's meticulous study of the Reichsarbeitsdienst and its counterpart in the U.S. deserves a wide readership. It is based on extensive primary source research in more than ten archives on both sides of the Atlantic. Not only its breadth, but also the close reading of the RAD's sparse remnants make this an impressive study; indeed, it is the first comprehensive study of this institution. This achievement alone is important. Moreover, the author draws on a wide variety of methodologies, ranging from conceptualizations of masculinity and space to transnational history; this diversity of strategy increases this monograph's overall innovativeness. The author's greatest achievement rests in having uncovered some striking, unexpected similarities between both institutions, and in revealing their reciprocal impact."
- H-German, Thilo Schimmel, Department of History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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