Village Voice Washington correspondent Ridgeway (Who Owns the Earth? 1980, etc.) opens this excellent history of America's racist far right with a chart entitled "Web of Racism": a lucid historical mapping-out of the labyrinthine entanglements among racist groups, from the KKK to the American Nazi Party to the Posse Comitatus, and evidence not only of Ridgeway's formidable understanding of the far right, but also of the wealth of illuminating illustrations that bolster the book. In accompanying direct, compact prose, Ridgeway traces the filaments of the web back to the 1787 writings of French cleric AbbÇ Barruel, who invented the idea of a global cabal orchestrating world events. In 1806, Ridgeway explains, a retired Italian army officer determined that the conspirators were Jews: the birth of the myth of the worldwide Jewish conspiracy that, according to the author, is at the heart of all rightwing racism. Ridgeway expertly follows the seeping of the myth—which grew to encompass other anti-minority elements as well—into American politics through the KKK and the anti-Semitic rantings of Henry Ford; through J. Edgar Hoover and the Minutemen of the 60's, and the white-power groups—the Aryan Nations, the Order—of the 70's and 80's—and up to today's right-wing resurgence, limelighted by the "kinder, gentler racism" of David Duke, and shadowed by growing hordes of violent proto-Nazi skinheads. And this resurgence, Ridgeway persuasively argues, is just a whisper of the shout to come, with racism overtaking anti-communism as the dominant political issue of our time. Clear and comprehensive—and what makes this an exceptional complement to James B. Coates's Armed and Dangerous (1987) and Kevin Flynn & Gary Gerhardt's The Silent Brotherhood (1989) is the incredible array of supporting illustrations and documents, including photographs, cartoons, insignia, posters, text extracts, and maps (e.g., of David Duke's new America, which would, among other things, relegate all Asian-Americans to "East Mongolia"—the Hawaiian Islands).
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