In 1953, the author traveled to Kronenberg, Germany, to better understand how common men understood their history from 1933. To do this, he interviewed 10 “little men,” mainstream working men who were self-conscious of their place in society’s lower rungs. He found that not speaking German gave him an advantage, as learning the language gave him an excuse for conversation.

The author presents a theory of totalitarianism based on (1) perceived external threat and (2) elite cues (p. 44).

For a contemporary reader, this book is at least as interesting for its critiques of McCarythism and its account of the early days of the European Union.