Monday, October 04, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: They Called Themselves the K.K.K.

They Called Themselves the K.K.K: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group. Susan Campbell Bartoletti. 2010. August 2010. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 172 pages.

In the spring of 1865, as rain softened the hard ground, plenty of work was found for every pair of hands on the Williams plantation in Camden, Arkansas, despite the Civil War, which was still raging at the end of its fourth year.

Powerful and compelling. That's how I'd describe Susan Campbell Bartoletti's newest work of nonfiction. The subject matter is difficult. It isn't easy to read about the K.K.K. To read about how they terrorized blacks and the whites who dared support their newly given rights--preachers, teachers, etc. But. It's a well-written, well-researched book that is a very moving account of a difficult time in American history--the Reconstruction of the South. Much of the book is spent on these early years of the Ku Klux Klan. Though the last chapter brings us through the twentieth century to modern times.

It was informative, fascinating, and haunting. What I appreciated most was the use of primary sources. How Bartoletti uses oral histories of former slaves (most taken from the 1930s) throughout her book. Often these quotes are accompanied by a photograph. It really makes a powerful statement. To put a name, a face to a story. And that is exactly what Bartoletti does best. She tells the story--the very human story--of the men, women, and children whose lives were most impacted by the Ku Klux Klan.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Unknown said...

Great review. Thanks for bring this book to my attention.

alisonwonderland said...

I'm very eager to get my hands on this one!

Madigan Mirza said...

Fantastic review. I have this book on my "To Be Read" pile. I snagged an ARC of it at the last ALA, but got distracted reading other stuff. I really must take a closer look at this title, it sounds fascinating.

Beth S. said...

This book sounds fascinating! Thanks for the review!