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Books > History > Americas > United States > State & Local > 0195098366
  1. Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan
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  2. Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan

    Delivery: 10-20 Working Days
    Customer Ratings (7 reviews)
    Price R591.00

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On Thanksgiving night, 1915, a small band of hooded men gathered atop Stone Mountain, an imposing granite butte just outside Atlanta. With a flag fluttering in the wind beside them, a Bible open to the twelfth chapter of Romans, and a flaming cross to light the night sky above, William Joseph Simmons and his disciples proclaimed themselves the new Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, named for the infamous secret order in which many of their fathers had served after the Civil War. Unsure of their footing in the New South and longing for the provincial, patriarchal world of the past, the men of the second Klan saw themselves as an army in training for a war between the races. They boasted that they had bonded into "an invisible stand as impregnable as a tower against every encroachment upon the white man's the white man's country, under the white man's flag."
Behind the Mask of Chivalry brings the "invisible phalanx" into broad daylight, culling from history the names, the life stories, and the driving passions of the anonymous Klansmen beneath the white hoods and robes. Using an unusual and rich cache of internal Klan records from Athens, Georgia, to anchor her observations, author Nancy MacLean combines a fine-grained portrait of a local Klan world with a penetrating analysis of the second Klan's ideas and politics nationwide. No other right-wing movement has ever achieved as much power as the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s, and this book shows how and why it did. MacLean reveals that the movement mobilized its millions of American followers largely through campaigns waged over issues that today would be called "family values": Prohibition violation, premarital sex, lewd movies, anxieties about women's changing roles, and worries over waning parental authority. Neither elites nor "poor white trash," most of the Klan rank and file were married, middle-aged, and middle class. Local meetings, or klonklaves, featured readings of the minutes, plans for recruitment campaigns and Klan barbecues, and distribution of educational materials--Christ and Other Klansmen was one popular tome. Nonetheless, as mundane as proceedings often were at the local level, crusades over "morals" always operated in the service of the Klan's larger agenda of virulent racial hatred and middle-class revanchism. The men who deplored sex among young people and sought to restore the power of husbands and fathers were also sworn to reclaim the "white man's country," striving to take the vote from blacks and bar immigrants. Comparing the Klan to the European fascist movements that grew out of the crucible of the first World War, MacLean maintains that the remarkable scope and frenzy of the movement reflected less on members' power within their communities than on the challenges to that power posed by African Americans, Jews, Catholics, immigrants, and white women and youth who did not obey the Klan's canon of appropriate conduct. In vigilante terror, the Klan's night riders acted out their movement's brutal determination to maintain inherited hierarchies of race, class, and gender.
Compellingly readable and impeccably researched, The Mask of Chivalry is an unforgettable investigation of a crucial era in American history, and the social conditions, cultural currents, and ordinary men that built this archetypal American reactionary movement.

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Nancy K. MacLean
Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press
16 pp halftones
16 pp halftones
Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press
Most Helpful Customer Reviews

This book will alter your view of who the Klan was and how its presence in the United States dramatically impacted the 1920's and 1930's. Most interesting is MacLean's analysis and comparison of the Klan in the U.S. with fascists in Italy and Germany. Seeing the Klan as part of an international/transatlantic phenomenon is particularly intriguing.

I live about thirty miles from Athens, Ga., and as a local history, BTMoS impressed me greatly.
This book looks at the activities of the Clarke County,Georgia Klan in the 1920's. The reason this Klan organization is chosen is due to the many public records and archives that are available and ,according to the author, this chapter was typical of small town Klan chapters in the South.
The author argues that the Klan represented a movement of " reactionary populism" among middle class whites during this time as they tried to deal with pressures from larger businesses that were putting competitive pressure on the middling farmer and businessman as well as the threat of labor unrest from the lower classes as various union movements tried to get established. There was also a reaction against the change of the family structure and the role of women. While the Klan was without a doubt a racist terrorist organization, the author also explores other aspects of their ideology such as the enforcements of gender roles and the hostility of organized labor and Catholicism. By... Read more
Utilizing the mind frame of Paul Fussell and his contemporaries that the Great War catalyzed the transformation of European and the western world from traditional to modernity. Nancy McLean advances the paradigm that a countermovement to resist the new values and norms such feminism, corporatism, unionism, and globalization. This movement developed under the auspices of the Ku Klux Klan, which contained motifs of populism, emphasis of race, gender, and age (biological) antagonisms over class and national sovereignty. The fervor populism sponsored by the conservative forces in Athens, Georgia was similar in context to the fascist organizations that occurred in Italy and Germany in an attempt to turn back the clock on ethic morals. Yet unlike its German or Italian counterparts failed to firmly take root in politics due to the brevity of the depression and boom. These characteristics manifested themselves into morality crusades to reinforce traditional norms over modern ones, but... Read more
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