One Hundred Percent American: The Rebirth and Decline of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s

Thomas R. Pegram. Rowman & Littlefield, $27.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5666-3711-4
Pegram, a professor at Loyola University Maryland, presents a diligently researched and nuanced view of the Ku Klux Klan, yielding a picture of an organization that is far more complex than previously thought. In the post–Civil War South, the Klan successfully blunted the efforts of Reconstruction, then faltered until its 1915 revival. Pegram shows how effective "modern marketing and mass mobilization techniques" pushed it to national prominence during the 1920s, a decade when Klansmen amassed political power in Indiana, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Texas. "White, Protestant values were the standard for true Americanism," according to Klan tenets, and the organization turned its wrath against Catholics, Jews, Latinos, and Greek immigrants as well as African-Americans. The Klan dealt out shocking violence in the South, "where sensationalized accounts of hooded vigilantes whipping, branding or applying hot tar and feathers" to their victims made the "Invisible Empire" a fearsome presence. Pegram painstakingly compiles individual instances of the organization's contradictions and venalities, such as the collection of membership fees by paid recruiters that made it "a highly successful pyramid scheme." The author's scholarly academic prose and chapter structure precludes an accessible narrative structure, but as scrupulous history, Pegram has made a useful contribution in the study of this highly fragmented movement. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/04/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-56663-922-4
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