Sunday, March 6, 2011

They Call Themselves the KKK

They Call Themselves the KKK: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group
Susan Campbell Bartoletti

I read this because it was part of School Library Journal's Battle of the Books. It covers the K.K.K. from its birth around the end of the Civil War until the end of Reconstruction, when (at least outwardly) Klan activities diminished, only to return in the early 20th century.

Bartoletti does an excellent job of showing the horrors of the early Klan and explaining how both the whites and the blacks felt intimidated by each other. Complete social change is difficult, and Reconstruction's effort to create equality for all ultimately fails.

I found this book to be fascinating. It is difficult to read in some spots, because Bartoletti doesn't pull any punches when it comes to relating the horrors of the acts committed by the Klan. I really appreciated her use of primary source accounts of both African-Americans and Klansmen.

Is this a book for everyone? Probably not. It is definitely of interest to those of us who live in the South, but I"m not sure how much relevance it would have to people from other regions of the United States (I'd love to know other's opinions about that)


Ms. Yingling said...

This was a great book, but I don't know that I will buy it. It's hard enough to get students to read nonfiction. Not that this is controversial-- Bartoletti never makes the KKK seem like a good thing-- but I don't think it would get much use. Sigh.

Paige Y. said...

I think I can get students to check it out just because of the title. I'm not sure how many will actually read it. I probably will booktalk it sometime next year with my 8th graders. Unfortunately, the Klan used to be active in my part of North Carolina (fortunately no longer) so there may be some interest just based on that.

Do you find your students enjoying nonfiction? I find that certain subjects will hook them (especially anything gross); others not so much.