Tuesday, February 15, 2011
They Called Themselves the KKK: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group
Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. 2010. THEY CALLED THEMSELVES THE KKK: THE BIRTH OF AN AMERICAN TERRORIST GROUP. New York: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 9780318440337 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]
Award-winning Bartoletti has created another rich historical narrative, steeped in primary source photos and quotes. This volume traces the origins of the Ku Klux Klan during the Reconstruction period of the American South, 1865-1877. From a good ol’ boys club meeting in a law office in Pulaski, Tennessee, readers can trace the KKK’s growth into an epidemic of dens across the south responsible for beatings, night raids and murder. An epilogue summarizes the continued existence and evolution of the KKK into the 20th century and its actions during the Civil Rights Movement.
Bartoletti writes in accessible language and clearly lays out historical context without oversimplifying the layers of racial and economic conflict. In a note to the reader, Bartoletti explains that “wherever possible, I have let the people of the past speak in their own voices. Some of these people use crude language… I have made no attempt to censor these historical statements.” The account is enriched by this honest approach and readers will appreciate the candidness that gives history a dimension of immediacy.
Ask readers to compare this account with works of fiction that deal with historical racial tensions such as ELIJAH OF BUXTON (ISBN 9780439023443) or THE BEST BAD LUCK I EVER HAD (ISBN 9780142416488). How is racial conflict presented in fiction? Why?
Other rich historical narratives by Susan Campbell Bartoletti:
BLACK POTATOES: THE STORY OF THE GREAT IRISH FAMINE, 1845-1850. ISBN 9780618548835
GROWING UP IN COAL COUNTRY. ISBN 9780395979143
HITLER YOUTH: GROWING UP IN HITLER’S SHADOW. ISBN 9780439353793
By Cecily Ponce de Leon