Discover millions of ebooks, audiobooks, and so much more with a free trial

Only $11.99/month after trial. Cancel anytime.

Swingtime for Hitler: Goebbels’s Jazzmen, Tokyo Rose, and Propaganda That Carries a Tune
Swingtime for Hitler: Goebbels’s Jazzmen, Tokyo Rose, and Propaganda That Carries a Tune
Swingtime for Hitler: Goebbels’s Jazzmen, Tokyo Rose, and Propaganda That Carries a Tune
Audiobook2 hours

Swingtime for Hitler: Goebbels’s Jazzmen, Tokyo Rose, and Propaganda That Carries a Tune

Written by Scott Simon

Narrated by Scott Simon

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars



About this audiobook

"Swingtime for Hitler is strange and subversive, a story that makes us sway and then hate ourselves for swaying. If you think present day politics is at the apex of weirdness, you're wrong – history has us beat, as proven by this toe tapping treasure. No one delivers audio (and Nazis) with as much smooth style as Scott Simon.” –Ann Patchett, bestselling author Tom Lake, Bel Canto, The Dutch House

"Brilliant, intriguing, disturbing, thoughtful and thought provoking, I cannot find enough words to describe this mesmerizing audiobook. A timely reminder of the seductive and dangerous power of propaganda, these sounds and voices remind us of a disturbing past, while also revealing the dangers and challenges we face today when voices of totalitarianism are growing louder." –Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, Read Dangerously, and other books

"Fascinating gripping and vivid. An amazing piece of research, writing, history, and storytelling. Scott Simon’s audiobook combining war, culture, music, and swing is not just compelling, colorful, and bizarre. It is also searingly relevant to dark times today. Swingtime is a must-listen!” –Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of The World: A Family History of Humanity

In his long career as a journalist for National Public Radio and host of the popular Weekend Edition Saturday, Scott Simon has traveled the world, covering wars and political unrest. During that time, he grew familiar with the lies dictators and oppressive regimes tell to keep their citizens in check. Simon has become, in a way, an aficionado of propaganda. From Bosnia to Rwanda, he heard it all — or so he thought until he was introduced to the morbidly fascinating work of Charlie and His Orchestra.

Created by Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister for Propaganda, Charlie and His Orchestra was a band that played popular jazz and swing tunes rewritten with Nazi lyrics. They were regularly featured on a German radio show that reached airwaves in Britain and the US. The Reich hoped that the hateful messages of the songs would get through to faraway listeners and sway opinion in Hitler’s favor.

Simon’s story examines propaganda through the lens of his interest in this repugnant yet magnetic band. It examines the persuasive power of a new medium, radio, and how World War II played out for most people via spins of the dial. Simon also speaks to his own experience with propaganda, which he encountered many times in his decades as a reporter at NPR. More urgently, he addresses the hate speech we increasingly experience today. Propaganda is the blunt tool used by the intolerant and those who want to hold onto power at any cost. And unlike in Nazi Germany, it’s now in the hands of everybody. Anyone with a phone or social media account can reach millions with the aim to deceive and mislead. This fake news is old propaganda in a new guise. By comparison, Charlie and His Orchestra seem almost quaint. 

To experience this story most fully, Scribd encourages readers to choose the audio option of Swingtime for Hitler. Vintage sound clips from the band’s performances, coupled with Simon’s unparalleled voice and narrative skill, make this a tale that will stay in your mind — and ears — for a long time to come.

Editor's Note

Propaganda with a swing…

In this audio treasure trove, Simon explores the fascinating and unsettling history of how a Nazi swing band used catchy songs to spread hateful propaganda. Full of vintage sound recordings — and the beloved NPR host’s witty and moving insights — this Scribd Original confronts the disturbing parallels between disinformation in Hitler’s Germany and fake news today.

Release dateSep 13, 2023

Scott Simon

Scott Simon is an Emmy- and Peabody Award–winning writer and broadcaster. He is the host of NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday, which The Washington Post has called “the most literate, witty, moving, and just plain interesting news show on any dial.” He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador and Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His nonfiction books include Unforgettable: A Son, a Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime; Home and Away: Memoirs of a Fan; Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball; and Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other, about the joys of adoption. He is also the author of several novels, including Sunnyside Plaza and the upcoming Wins, Losses, Saves.

Related to Swingtime for Hitler

Related audiobooks

History For You