THE DRAGON AND THE CROSS by Richard K. Tucker

THE DRAGON AND THE CROSS

The Rise and Fall of the Ku Klux Klan in Middle America
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Here, Tucker, formerly with the Indianapolis News and the Baltimore Sun, listlessly tackles the phenomenon of the KKK's popularity in the Midwest in the wake of WW I, charting its rapid rise to social prominence as well as its equally meteoric decline. After touching on the Klan's origins in the 1860's and providing a brief account of racism, anti-Catholicism, and other manifestations of conservative thinking as they existed in America's heartland when the era of Prohibition began, Tucker focuses on the success that the KKK enjoyed in Indiana. He attributes this largely to the savvy of the charismatic D.C. Stephenson, a Klan organizer who became Grand Dragon in the state in the mid-20's and the leader of a membership in the tens of thousands. Lining his pockets with the dues of his fellow Klansmen, Stephenson also wielded considerable political power, with his organization picking candidates for state office and supporting them covertly. The practice culminated in the election of a Klan supporter as governor of Indiana in 1924, opening up the possibility of Stephenson's own candidacy for national office. Visions of a Klan presidency quickly went up in flames, however, when Stephenson was convicted of murder after having raped a young woman who then poisoned herself. Unfortunately, what originates here as a promising analysis of the KKK quickly reverts to a pedestrian biography of Stephenson--and that shift, as well as the persistently anecdotal nature of the discussion, makes for an unexceptional account. Offers some insight into the Klan and its most prominent member in the Midwest during the 20's, but a definitive book on the subject remains to be written.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-208-02310-0
Page count: 234pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1991