They came in the dead of night, marking the homes and businesses of their enemies with crude symbols and dire warnings. They plotted against those of other religious faiths and circulated secret lists of alleged traitors to the community and nation. They mailed anonymous threats to those who refused to be intimidated into silence, all the while claiming that they were the true champions of American justice and freedom. The above may seem an accurate description of the sinister activities that distinguished the Ku Klux Klan in the early twentieth century, but in Buffalo, New York, and, in fact, throughout much of the northeastern United States, such activities were as characteristic of the Klan's opponents as of the hooded order itself. While the revived Klan of the 1920s-- the largest and most influential manifestation of organized intolerance in American history--proceeded with relative impunity in many locales, it encountered a very different situation in Buffalo where powerful enemies opposed the organization at every turn.
Shawn Lay here provides a riveting portrayal of how the Klan established itself in Buffalo. Most chillingly, he explains how otherwise ordinary, well-established citizens, caught up in a complex set of circumstances, were persuaded to join a notorious secret society that pandered to the darkest impulses in American society.