Prequel Book Summary - Prequel Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Prequel summary

Rachel Maddow

An American Fight Against Fascism

4 (146 ratings)
16 mins
Table of Contents

    Summary of 3 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 3

    The German agent

    Meet George Sylvester Viereck, born in Munich, Germany in 1884. Viereck was many things: an acclaimed poet, a novelist, and a journalist capable of landing interviews with names like Henry Ford and Sigmund Freud. A self-styled “bon vivant”, he moved easily in American high society, rubbing shoulders with the great and good. He was also one of America’s most notorious Nazi sympathizers. We’ll come back to that, though. 

    Viereck emigrated to America when he was twelve. He romanticized his family history, falsely claiming to be the product of an affair between his mother, an actress, and the German king, Kaiser Wilhelm I. The Kaiser was in no position to acknowledge his illegitimate son, Viereck admitted, but he still boasted about the royal blood supposedly flowing through his veins. 

    Viereck was 29 when WW1 broke out in 1914. He was widely recognized as an up-and-coming literary talent and had developed a knack for attracting fawning publicity. But that all changed in 1915 – the year he burnt his bridges with the New York literary scene and the American public. 

    The United States hadn’t entered the conflict yet. For most Americans, it was a European affair best left to the Europeans. The war, however, came to the United States. That summer, a German submarine torpedoed a New York-bound British passenger ship, the Lusitania, killing some 1,200 civilians, including 124 Americans. 

    Outraged Americans condemned the maritime massacre, but Viereck, who supported Germany, defended the action. The British admiralty had instructed British ships to ram German submarines operating in the Atlantic. That, he argued, effectively erased the distinction between warships and civilian vessels. Sinking the Lusitania was thus justified – it was, in his words, an effective reminder that Germany “does not bluff”. That put him at odds with most of his compatriots. His fall from grace, however, was only just beginning. 

    A few weeks later, while showing a visiting German official around Manhattan, Viereck left his briefcase on a train. Its contents were a bombshell: top-secret documents outlining Germany’s plans to interfere in American politics and undermine the case for America’s entry into the war on the side of Britain and France. Viereck had effectively been outed as a paid agent of Germany.

    The documents showed that Germany was spending $60 million a week on propaganda and espionage in the United States. When America entered the war in 1917, Viereck’s star finally set. He was publicly shunned and even chased out of his home by a furious mob. His literary reputation never recovered. But he didn’t care: he had found a new calling. 

    Want to see all full key ideas from Prequel?

    Key ideas in Prequel

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Prequel about?

    Prequel (2023) explores a forgotten chapter in modern American history – the attempt by a powerful, Nazi-funded movement to roll back democracy in the United States in the 1930s. The reason we rarely remember this “plot against America” is simple: it failed. But there’s also a good reason to return to this troubling chapter – the citizens who foiled this fascist conspiracy can help us understand how to defeat threats against democracy in our own time. 

    Prequel Review

    Prequel (2021) is a thought-provoking book by Rachel Maddow that dives deep into American politics and offers a fresh perspective on historical events. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Extensive research and in-depth analysis provide readers with a comprehensive understanding of the political landscape, shedding light on complex issues.
    • The book offers riveting narratives and compelling storytelling, keeping readers engrossed in the pages as they uncover the untold stories behind pivotal moments in history.
    • Empathetic and objective in its approach, Prequel presents a fair and balanced account of events, allowing readers to form their own opinions and gain a nuanced perspective.

    Who should read Prequel?

    • History buffs
    • Politicos 
    • Activists fighting to protect democracy 

    About the Author

    Rachel Maddow hosts The Rachel Maddow Show, MSNBC’s Emmy Award-winning Monday night news show. Maddow has authored numerous nonfiction titles covering contemporary American politics, including New York Times bestsellers such as Drift, Blowout, and Bag Man. She studied public policy and political science at Stanford University and Oxford University. 

    Categories with Prequel

    Book summaries like Prequel

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    31 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    Prequel FAQs 

    What is the main message of Prequel?

    The main message of Prequel is ___.

    How long does it take to read Prequel?

    The reading time for Prequel varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just ___ minutes.

    Is Prequel a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Prequel is worth reading because ___.

    Who is the author of Prequel?

    The author of Prequel is ___.

    How many chapters are in Prequel?

    Prequel has ___ chapters.

    1. Chapter 1
    2. Chapter 2
    3. Chapter 3

    How many pages are in Prequel?

    Prequel contains ___ pages.

    When was Prequel published?

    Prequel was published in ___.

    What to read after Prequel?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Prequel, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Oath and Honor by Liz Cheney
    • Essential Reiki by Diane Stein
    • Remember Love by Cleo Wade
    • The Fund by Rob Copeland
    • Knife by Salman Rushdie
    • All It Takes Is a Goal by Jon Acuff
    • Why We Remember by Charan Ranganath
    • New Cold Wars by David E. Sanger
    • The Wager by David Grann
    • Swipe to Unlock by Neel Mehta