Reviewed Elsewhere: Ryan Shaffer, Music, Youth and International Links in Post‐War British Fascism: The Transformation of Extremism.

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Ryan Shaffer. Music, Youth and International Links in Post‐War British Fascism: The Transformation of Extremism. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. 2017. x + 351pp. £89.99 (cloth), ISBN 978-3-319-59667-9.

The cultural history of interwar forms of fascism in Britain have been extensively scrutinized by the likes of Richard Thurlow, Thomas Linehan and Julie Gottlieb in recent years, while the equally marginalized groups that grew after the Second World War have been far less well studied. In a welcome revision to this trend, Ryan Shaffer's Music, Youth and International Links in Post‐War British Fascism offers detailed examination of a milieu that, though on the margins of British politics and society, has helped to shape racist cultures in the second half of the twentieth century, and continues to campaign for extremist ideals in the twenty‐first.

Though Shaffer is keen to stress that his volume is an ‘empirical’, rather than a ‘theoretical’, contribution to the existing literature, the book opens with an introduction that aligns the study with recent theorists of fascism such as Roger Griffin, who focuses on the need to explore fascism's ‘palingenetic’ and anti‐liberal cultures. It also presents itself as complementary to the work of leading figures in the study of British fascism such as Graham Macklin and Nigel Copsey who, like Shaffer, highlight the need to examine fascism as a complex culturally driven phenomenon. ...

Shaffer stresses that, while scholars such as the political scientist Matthew Goodwin have explored the recent rise and fall of the British National Party, the preceding story of the National Front has been neglected in recent times.

... one of the key strengths of the volume ... [is] its precision in detailing the formation and break‐up of specific groups, and their interrelationships with one another. However  ... While Shaffer develops clearly what happened, he can be weaker on explaining why it happened.

Shaffer concludes that post‐war British fascism has concentrated on engaging the young, and on establishing international contacts. Certainly, the book successfully tells the story of how many British fascists, especially through youth‐orientated music cultures, have been able to reinvent white nationalist, and even neo‐Nazi, activism. However, the focus on the young and the transnational ultimately only tells part of the story. Many British fascists have also been older figures, as evidenced by the ongoing activities of interviewees such as Edmonds and Webster, who continue to play a role in their later years. The idealization of ‘youth’ no longer means that these protagonists are actually ‘young’ either – as the audience at recent Blood & Honour events amply demonstrates! While this book is an important part of the growing literature examining post‐1945 British fascist culture, the focus on (male) youth leaves unanswered questions about those drawn to, or active in, the movement at other points in their life cycle. Nevertheless, Shaffer has made an important contribution to the study of British fascism. His empirical approach provides an invaluable, and very readable, guide to the many, tiny groups and splinter groups, as well as the variegated ideological trends, that have fostered this complex, marginalized movement from the 1960s to the present day.

Paul Jackson. History 104, 360 (2019), 385–387.