Books by Morris Dees

Released: April 19, 1996

Dees, chief trial counsel of the Southern Poverty Law Center, covers much of the same territory as Kenneth Stern (The Force Upon the Plain, 1995) in uncovering the danger of America's extreme right, but he does it with greater passion, considerable narrative drama, and deeply scary inside reports from SPLC moles. Dees's (A Season for Justice, 1991) main thesis is that what were previously scattered, ideologically divided groups of right- wing extremists have now become a unified force bent on using violence to bring about white supremacist rule in the US. The dominant ideology is Christian Identity, a ``theology of hate'' whose followers are preparing for an Armageddon to overthrow the Zionist-occupied government (or ZOG). What Dees finds particularly alarming is the combustible union of hate groups, such as the Klan, with the rapidly growing (311 as of this year) and well-armed militia movements. Like Stern, Dees reviews such key events as the shoot-out at Ruby Ridge and the conflagration in Waco, and charts the growing hatred of the government that emerged in the aftermath of these events. ``It is that virulent hatred . . . that is driving the militia movement, while at the same time masking its insidious racist underpinnings,'' he declares. Interestingly, he suggests that Timothy McVeigh might have been part of a small cell in the movement's decentralized ``leaderless resistance'' network. The most revealing information comes from the spies of SPLC's Militia Task Force; this group penetrated the October 1992 conference in Estes Park, Colo., that helped unify the forces of the far right, and drawing on transcripts from the meetings, Dees offers extracts of the virulent demagoguery that was spewed there. (In a timely bit of reporting, he notes that Larry Pratt, recently forced to resign as co-chair of Pat Buchanan's presidential campaign, was present at this conference.) A convincing brief for the argument that the extreme right poses a serious, ongoing danger in this country. ($50,000 ad/promo; author tour; radio satellite tour) Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1993

Exciting tale of a legal battle against neo-Nazi skinhead goons, by the attorney who bankrupted the Ku Klux Klan. In A Season for Justice (1991), Dees and fellow attorney Fiffer revealed how Dees busted Grand Dragon Bobby Shelton and his KKK; now, the authors turn their attention to Dees's parallel confrontation with the White Aryan Resistance and its leader, 50-year-old Tom Metzger, America's most prominent white-supremacist revolutionary. A critical bit of information fell into Dees's lap in November 1988: A few weeks earlier, a young Ethiopian student, Mulugeta Seraw, had been clubbed to death by skinheads in Portland, Oregon. The trail of blood led indirectly to Metzger, who, Dees was convinced, had provoked the Portland rowdies. What ensued was a multiyear struggle to bring down Metzger in a civil case demanding $10 million in financial reparation for the Seraw family. The task was tough, especially as the key prosecution witness was Dave Mazzella, a volatile skinhead who fell afoul of the law several times during the proceedings. Perhaps Mazzella was erratic out of fear; after all, the previous leader of his neo-Nazi group, the Aryan Youth Movement, had been crucified—literally—when he quit the organization a few years back. Moreover, Metzger, a spellbinding speaker, planned to act as his own attorney, presenting a free-speech defense. The trial itself was a slugfest: Emotions ran high, and riot police were needed to protect those in the courtroom. But Mazzella delivered, and a horrifying portrait emerged of a subworld of ``berserkers'' and ``predators'' who attend ``Reich-and-Roll'' concerts when they're not busy killing. Dees won the case, which is now on appeal; Mazzella is in hiding. Scary stuff—according to Dees, skinhead violence is on the rise—with a gripping courtroom confrontation between hatred and righteousness. (B&w photos—not seen.) Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 1991

Dees, civil-rights lawyer and co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, offers an eloquent memoir of his battles with the Ku Klux Klan and other right-wing hate organizations. Dees's autobiography, written with fellow attorney Fiffer, epitomizes the paradox of the New South. A white Southern Baptist who attended the Univ. of Alabama in the 1950's, and who made a fortune in the mail-order business, Dees appeared an unlikely candidate to become a crusading civil-rights lawyer. But the atrocities of his white neighbors against blacks involved in the civil-rights movement aroused in Dees a deep protest. Although his successful business freed him from the necessity of making a living as a lawyer, he co-founded the Southern Poverty Law Center and started to bring civil-rights cases against the newly resurgent Ku Klux Klan. Dees describes in gripping detail his fight to protect Vietnamese victims of the Klan in Texas, and his ultimately victorious struggle to expose and punish the murderous activities of the United Klans of America. His description of the Klan and affiliated fascist groups like the American Nazi Party and the Order is truly frightening (more than once, these groups menaced Dees himself). Moreover, his narrative of his ultimate success is an inspiring example of the manner in which the American legal system, imperfect though it is, can solve social problems. A moving, powerful account of one man's struggle against injustice. Read full book review >