The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition

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$27.95  $25.99
Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publish Date
6.4 X 1.2 X 9.3 inches | 1.25 pounds
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About the Author

Winner of two Bancroft Prizes for best book in American history, Linda Gordon is the author of The Second Coming of the KKK and a biography of photographer Dorothea Lange. She lives in New York and Madison, Wisconsin.


Set aside your preconceptions about the Klan, from the era of Reconstruction. As the distinguished historian Linda Gordon demonstrates in this chilling account, the KKK of the 1920s was urban, northern, and modern. Its wizards and dragons used the latest tools of mass advertising to spread their message of 'true Americanism' racial purity, religious intolerance, and opposition to immigration. Its members, one in six of whom were women, favored women's suffrage. Its campaign of terror ended not long after it began, but it left on American politics its dark mark.--Jill Lepore, author of The Secret History of Wonder Woman
An excellent historical treatment of an almost forgotten yet very dangerous period of hate in America. What a history lesson for today's electorate.--Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center
As the author amply shows, [the Klan's] fearful, angry spirit lives on. A revealing, well-researched--and, unfortunately, contemporarily relevant--investigation of the KKK's wide support in the 1920s.
A must-read for anyone wondering over the last several months how we ended up as a country--with the first African-American president not even a year out of office--facing a group of golf shirt-wearing young white men marching onto the campus of a prestigious university carrying torches and chanting 'Jews will not replace us" . . . . Gordon documents not only the mechanics of how the Ku Klux Klan roared back to power, both socially and politically, in the 1920s but why. The parallels between then and now, branding differences aside, could not be more evident. To say it one more time for those who wish it weren't so, the past isn't dead and it's not even past; and those who don't learn from it are doomed to repeat it. . . . Histories like Gordon's should help Americans understand the roots of these toxic ideologies, as well as the circumstances that help them flourish, in order to better spot them when they sprout.--Erin Keane
Sharply argued. . . . [Gordon] encourages readers to draw bold lines between the political milieu of the Second Klan and our current predicament.--Todd Moye
The Klan of the 1920s, less violent but far more wide¬spread, is a different story, and offers some chilling comparisons to the present day. . . A thoughtful explanation of the Klan's appeal in the fast-urbanizing America of the 1920s, which was leaving behind an earlier nation based, in imagined memory, on self-sufficient yeoman farmers, proud blue-collar workers, and virtuous small-town businessmen, all of them going to the same white-steepled church on Sunday.--Adam Hoschschild
The Second Coming of the KKK illustrates how the 1920s reboot of the Ku Klux Klan was regarded as rather ordinary and respectable, much like today's efforts to make everyday racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism acceptable again. . . With the help of a couple of savvy public relations pros, Klan membership spread like wildfire, enveloping Northerners and Westerners in love with the idea of defining themselves by what they were not.--Deborah Douglas
The Second Coming of the KKK reminds us that we Americans bid good riddance to serial aberrations in the civic and social life of our republic repeatedly, only to learn that these phenomena are as American as apple pie. Gordon's timely, crisply written, indispensable primer helps explain why another aberration is now upon us.--David Levering Lewis, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of W.E.B. Du Bois: A Biography