The Swastika and Symbols of Hate

Extremist Iconography Today

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About The Book

“Force[s] even the most sophisticated to rethink and rework their ideas of how images work in the world.” —School Library Journal

This is a classic story, masterfully told, in a new, revised and expanded edition about how one graphic symbol can endure and influence life—for good and evil—for generations and never, even today, be redeemed. A nuanced examination of the most powerful symbol ever created, The Swastika and Symbols of Hate explores the rise and fall of the symbol, its mysteries, co-option, and misunderstandings. Readers will be fascinated by the twists and turns of the swastika’s fortunes, from its pre-Nazi spiritual-religious and benign commercial uses, to the Nazi appropriation and criminalization of the form, to its contemporary applications as both a racist, hate-filled logo and ignorantly hip identity. Once the mark of good fortune, during the twentieth century it was hijacked and perverted, twisted into the graphic embodiment of intolerance. If you want to know what the logo for hate looks like, go no further.

The Nazi swastika is a visual obscenity and provokes deep emotions on all sides. The Nazis weaponized this design, first as a party emblem, then as a sign of national pride and, ultimately, as the trademark of Adolf Hitler’s unremitting malevolence in the name of national superiority. A skilled propagandist, Hitler and his accomplices understood how to stoke fear through mass media and through emblems, banners, and uniforms. Many contemporary hate marks are rooted in Nazi iconography both as serious homage and sarcastic digital bots and trolls. Given the increasing tolerance for supremacist intolerance tacitly and overtly shown by politicians the world over, this revised (and reconfigured) edition includes additional material on old and new hate logos as it examines graphic design’s role in far-right extremist ideology today.

About The Author

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the School of Visual Arts MFA Design / Designer as Author + Entrepreneur Program. He is the author, coauthor, and editor of over 170 books on design, social satire, and visual culture. He is the recipient of the 2011 Smithsonian National Design Award for "Design Mind." He lives in New York City.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Allworth (September 3, 2019)
  • Length: 216 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781621537199

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Raves and Reviews

“Force[s] even the most sophisticated to rethink and rework their ideas of how images work in the world.” School Library Journal

"Steven Heller, our foremost chronicler of graphic design, has aimed his sights at the most abominable logo of all, the swastika. In a world where visual symbols routinely migrate from context to context, from meaning to meaning, Heller uncovers the unparalleled history of an ancient symbol that, in the wake of its promotion by the Nazis, can no longer escape the gravity of its history." —Stuart Ewen, author of All Consuming Images and PR!: A Social History of Spin

"Heller masterfully unravels the tangled source of the swastika's origin. His thoroughly researched account is supplemented by an extraordinary visual record that shows for the first time how this once spiritual symbol was transformed into an icon of hate." —Victor Margolin, professor of design history, University of Illinois at Chicago
 

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