January 10, 2014

Popularity of Mein Kampf Surging

Mein Kampf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
According to a recent article in The Toronto Star, Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf is now among the best-selling political books on Amazon and iTunes in the U.S. and Canada. I received a link to this article through one of the listservs I'm on for work, and it is quite clear that some people are very concerned about how well it is selling. But is this really cause for concern? I'm not so sure.

The article noted that both iTunes and Amazon now carry electronic versions of Hitler's book for $0.99. Sure enough, it was easy to locate a Kindle edition of the book for that price. The article also mentioned that the book is available for free at the Universal Library Project, where it is second from the top in terms of what people are downloading.

While Stephanie MacLellan, author of the Toronto Star article says that she does not know why the book has recently become so popular, she ventures a reasonable guess that it has something to do with the increased availability of inexpensive electronic versions.
But it likely has more to do with the medium than the message: ebooks let readers study Mein Kampf without the worry that someone will catch them with a copy.
That strikes me as being as sensible a guess as anything else I have heard. Were I to read the book again, I'd just as soon not be seen with it in public. I could imagine others feeling similarly.

Of course, those who say we should be very concerned by news of the book's popularity suggest that it signals a resurgence in fascism. They assume that people are reading the book because they support the ideology it contains. This was how the article came to my attention on the listserv. I certainly didn't read Mein Kampf because I agreed with its ideology, just as I don't read the Christian bible from time-to-time because I agree with its ideology. I'm sure there are people out there today who agree with some of what Hitler stood for, but I am unconvinced that their numbers are increasing sharply.

What do you think? Should we be concerned with the popularity of Mein Kampf or is this just fear-mongering?

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