Boys, let us get up a club.With those words, six restless young men raided the linens at a friend’s mansion, pulled pillowcases over their heads, hopped on horses, and cavorted through the streets of Pulaski, Tennessee in 1866. The six friends named their club the Ku Klux Klan, and, all too quickly, their club grew into the self-proclaimed Invisible Empire with secret dens spread across the South.This is the story of how a secret terrorist group took root in America’s democracy. Filled with chilling and vivid personal accounts unearthed from oral histories, congressional documents, and diaries, this account from Newbery Honor-winning author Susan Campbell Bartoletti is a book to read and remember. A YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Finalist.
In this comprehensive, accessible account, Newbery Honor author Bartoletti (Hitler Youth) draws from documentary histories, slave narratives, newspapers, congressional testimony, and other sources to chronicle the origins and proliferation of the Ku Klux Klan against the charged backdrop of Reconstruction politics and legislation. Bartoletti uses the letters and diaries of the founders of the KKK six former Confederate officers as well as some informed speculation to explain their incentive for starting a "club" to, in the words of an original member, "protect property and preserve law and order." The author lives up to her introductory promise to avoid censoring racist language and images, and includes some horrifying descriptions of lynchings and murders perpetuated during KKK raids on freedmen's homes, churches, and schools. Copious photos, engravings, and illustrations provide a hard-hitting graphic component to this illuminating book. And while Bartoletti notes that contemporary "hate groups wield none of the power or prestige that the Ku Klux Klan held in earlier years," her account of attending a Klan meeting while researching the book is chilling to the core. Ages 12 up.