The Agitator

William Bailey and the First America Uprising Against Nazism

peter duffy author the Agitator

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Peter Duffy’s The Agitator is an engrossing account of an opening shot in the international fight against Nazism. At its heart is working-class hero William Bailey, a brave and determined Irish-American seaman who helped strike a symbolic but highly significant blow against the Hitler gang. Duffy gives us the context and consequences of the courageous resistance of Bailey and his companions–”the Bremen Six’–to a rising tide of racism and anti-Semitism. Enlightening as well as inspiring, The Agitator is a tale for our time.Peter Quinn, author of Looking for Jimmy: A Search for Irish America
Peter Duffy’s beautifully rendered narrative reveals why Bill Bailey was one of the most colorful and inspiring figures in the history of the modern American left. The blow he struck in 1935 against the Nazi regime was merely symbolic, but it helped touch off the anti-fascist resistance that worked a profound change in U.S. politics and culture.Michael Kazin, author of War Against War: The American Fight for Peace 1914-1918 and coeditor of Dissent
In these days of new demagogues at home and around the globe, it is stirring to be reminded of how a small but dedicated group of American radicals struck an early symbolic blow against Nazism. Peter Duffy has brought to life an inspiring story that I’ll bet you never knew about before.Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost and Spain in Our Hearts

Summary

This story of an anti-fascist’s dramatic and remarkable victory against Nazism in 1935 is an inspiration to anyone compelled to resist when signs of oppression are on the horizon.

By 1935, Hitler had suppressed all internal opposition and established himself as Germany’s unchallenged dictator. Yet many Americans remained largely indifferent as he turned his dangerous ambitions abroad. Not William Bailey.

Just days after violent anti-Semitic riots had broken out in Berlin, the SS Bremen, the flagship of Hitler’s commercial armada, was welcomed into New York Harbor. Bailey led a small group that slipped past security and cut down the Nazi flag from the boat in the middle of a lavish party. A brawl ensued, followed by a media circus and a trial, in which Bailey and his team were stunningly acquitted. The political victory ultimately exposed Hitler’s narcissism and violent aggression for all of America to see.

The Agitator is the captivating story of Bailey’s courage and vision in the Bremen incident, the pinnacle of a life spent battling against fascism. Bailey’s story is full of drama and heart–and it’s an inspiration to anyone who seeks to resist tyranny.

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