The Color of Fascism: Lawrence Dennis, Racial Passing, and the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism in the United States

Synopsis

"With his characteristic verve, Professor Gerald Horne has written an excellent book about the fascinating and mysterious Lawrence Dennis. This pairing of the leftist black intellectual Horne and the racially-closeted fascist Dennis makes for an exciting exploration of obscure terrain that warrants more notice. Professor Horne has performed an important service by revealing so vividly Dennis's strange but instructive career." - Randall Kennedy, Harvard Law School

"I am almost certainly not alone in expressing surprise that Lawrence Dennis, the principal American intellectual fascist, was an African American who 'passed' for white. In the process of explaining Dennis's rise and how his secret minority status shaped his political extremism, Gerald Horne has researched and written a compelling and significant history of American fascism." - Kenneth Janken, author of White: The Biography of Walter White, Mr. NAACP

What does it mean that Lawrence Dennis- arguably the "brains" behind U.S. fascism- was born black but spent his entire adult life passing for white? Born in Atlanta in 1893, Dennis began life as a highly touted African American child preacher, touring nationally and arousing audiences with his dark-skinned mother as his escort. However, at some point between leaving prep school and entering Harvard University, he chose to abandon his family and his former life as an African American in order to pass for white. Dennis went on to work for the State Department and on Wall Street, and ultimately became the public face of U.S. fascism, meeting with Mussolini and other fascist leaders in Europe. He underwent trial for sedition during World War II, almost landing in prison, and ultimately became a Cold War critic before dying in obscurity in 1977. Based on extensive archival research,The Color of Fascismblends biography, social history, and critical race theory to illuminate the fascinating life of this complex and enigmatic man. Gerald Horne links passing and fascism, the two main poles of Dennis's life, suggesting that Dennis's anger with the U.S. as a result of his upbringing in Jim Crow Georgia led him to alliances with the antagonists of the U.S. and that his personal isolation which resulted in his decision to pass dovetailed with his ultimate isolationism. Dennis's life is a lasting testament to the resilience of right-wing thought in the U.S. The first full-scale biographical portrait of this intriguing figure,The Color of Fascismalso links the strange career of a prominent American who chose to pass.