Rosenfeld never quite nails why the word Reich is so poisonous and causes such a frisson: but perhaps he feels the toxicity of the term is so self-evident that he hardly needs to. The problem lies not just in its association with the Nazis but with the fact that a Reich goes hand in hand with empire-building, and often beyond the German-speaking peoples... None of this, though, is very profound: and if this is not a historical study then it must be a psychological one, about the relish with which readers and viewers lap up stories about the Nazi nightmare returning. What was, and for elderly survivors still remains, an appalling horror story now serves a dual purpose as a fictional one .
This diverting book is the history of an idea... Rosenfeld, a professor of history at a private Catholic university in the US and the author of Hi Hitler! How the Nazi Past is Being Normalized in Contemporary Culture, provides a useful potted summary of the history of the German far right after 1945... Rosenfeld has a lot of fun with this trend... So in the end, what does all the Fourth Reich stuff amount to? Not a lot, despite the author’s efforts — although it was fun finding out.