BEHIND THE MASK OF CHIVALRY

THE MAKING OF THE SECOND KU KLUX KLAN

A well-researched and convincing analysis of the most powerful reactionary movement in American history: the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s. Dormant since the end of Reconstruction in the 1870s, the Ku Klux Klan broke out with an even more virulent strain of terrorism in 1915. Yet, as MacLean (History/Northwestern) demonstrates, it did not really hit its stride until after WW I, amid social disruptions ``that appeared to eviscerate discipline, stability, and predictability.'' MacLean is less interested in the organization's use of terror (though the few incidents she recounts are horrifying enough) than in the frightened worldview of its members. She takes issue with the common depiction of its rank and file as ``poor white trash,'' instead identifying the typical Klansman as a solid family man who found the settled certitudes of his life under a multipronged assault from changing relations between the sexes, Prohibition violations, strikes, and civil rights agitation. Such men, threatened by concentrated wealth above and labor insurgency below, felt as unmanned in the workplace as they did in the home. With between one and five million members at its height, the Klan was so powerful that no president in the 1920s dared to denounce its violence against African-Americans, Roman Catholics, Jews, and union activists. MacLean focuses on Clarke County, Georgia, where the Klan's Athens chapter left a cache of records surprisingly rich for an organization so famed for secrecy. At the same time, she carefully anchors this local study in a larger international perspective that takes in the post-World War I reactionary movements that produced fascism and Nazism. Masterly scholarship that unravels the murderous racial, gender, and class resentments underpinning a terrorist organization as American as apple pie.

Pub Date: May 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-19-507234-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1994

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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