About the Book

Robert Paul Prager

About Patriotic Murder

Robert Prager, a lonely German immigrant, was probably the most shameful U.S. casualty of World War I. From coast to coast, America had been whipped into an intolerant patriotic frenzy by a steady diet of government propaganda and hate mongering. In Collinsville, Illinois the enraged, drunken mob that hung Prager from a tree just after midnight on April 5, 1918, would make him the only German immigrant lynched in the U.S. during the Great War.

 Coal miners in the St. Louis suburb would show the nation they were doing their patriotic part—that they weren’t slackers. And what good American would stop them anyway? Not the alderman or businessmen who watched silently. Not the four policemen who let Prager from their custody, without so much as a fight or a weapon being drawn. And who would hold the mob leaders accountable? Certainly not the jury that took just 10 minutes to acquit them, all while a band played The Star Spangled Banner in the courthouse lobby.

The greatest untold story in 20th Century American history is of the U.S. government’s wartime propaganda campaign and subsequent highjacking of civil liberties for anyone who might be deemed unpatriotic. In the fight to “save democracy” in Europe, the first casualty would undoubtedly be democratic freedoms in America.

Patriotic Murder’s lessons on intolerance and hate still sadly resonate today as anti-immigration rhetoric and über-nationalism remain prominent themes in American political discussion—more than a century later. Peter Stehman’s narrative non-fiction book is the first on this compelling story.