Choice (American Library Association)

Book review: Stormtrooper Families, written by Andrew Wackerfuss, PhD

Historian Wackerfuss (Georgetown) provides a very readable history of the Sturmabteilung (SA), or stormtroopers, one of the earliest wings of Nazism. Focusing on the SA’s actions as a paramilitary group in Hamburg in the years leading up to 1933, Wackerfuss traces the groups origins in the Great War, showcasing a series of violent actions intended to ensure the group’s position of power in local politics. In doing so, the author effectively teases out tensions between stormtroopers’ relationships to their families on the one hand, and on the other to the strong homosocial kinship networks they built, which were central to the emergence, growth, and ultimate disappearance of the SA on the Night of the Long Knives in 1934. Additionally, the study raises important questions about the links between same-sex desire, sexuality, and politics, and interrogates the ever-present specter of Nazism in public memory and the popular imagination. The inclusion of a broad historical overview, a thorough explanation of the terminology used throughout the study, and a glossary of relevant terms make the book highly accessible to a wide range of readers. Summing Up: Highly Recommended. All levels/libraries.

Reviewed by B. Boovy