Tobias Boes on Thomas Mann’s War

December 2, 2021

How did Thomas Mann use the then still young medium of radio for his fight against fascism? How did he channel repressed energies into political activism? Literary scholar Tobias Boes, author of the book Thomas Mann’s War: Literature, Politics, and the World Republic of Letters (Cornell University Press, 2019), discusses Thomas Mann’s role as a political figure in the United States and how he addressed political issues through the eyes of a novelist. In his book, Boes traces how the acclaimed and bestselling author became one of America’s most prominent anti-fascists. In this episode, we learn more about Mann’s speeches, how he used radio as a political medium and what we can learn from Thomas Mann’s political engagement today. Tobias Boes is a Professor and department chair in German and Russian Languages and Literature at the University of Notre Dame.




Tom Zoellner (host) is the New York Times bestselling author of eight nonfiction books, including Island on Fire, Uranium Train, and The Heartless Stone. He teaches at Chapman University and Dartmouth College. A former reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, he is the politics editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books.


Aida Baghernejad (co-host) is an award-winning journalist and culture critic based in Berlin. Her work appears in national and international media outlets, among them the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the San Francisco Chronicle, the TagesspiegelZeit Online and Deutschlandfunk Kultur, as well as the German podcast series Pasta & Politik, featuring leading female politicians and thinkers in Germany. In 2021, she received the International Music Journalism Award as Music Journalist of the Year. She has previously taught at King’s College London and the Humboldt University Berlin.


Lisa Bartfai (producer) is an award-winning independent radio journalist, podcast producer, and translator. She is the producer and editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books podcast 55 Voices for Democracy, and the producer, editor, and host of Bowdoin Presents, a podcast by Bowdoin College. Bartfai’s own reporting was included in the Columbia Review of Journalism’s “Best journalism of 2020: Covering racial justice,” and has been awarded second place in the Society for Features Journalism 2021 Excellence-in-Features, in the Best Podcast category. Bartfai is a mentor with Report for America, and a proud alumni of the KALW Audio Academy.