akibird

A Blog of Children's Literature

They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group March 21, 2011

They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist GroupThey Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group by Susan Campbell Bartoletti(2010)

Information, 176 pages

In one of the more comprehensive and objective accounts in young adult literature on the topic, Susan Campbell Bartoletti shares the history and creation of the Ku Klux Klan. Bartoletti does a stellar job building the background of the story and the Reconstruction time period to understand why six men were triggered to form such a club and how it grossly grew out of control, even for the founders and their chosen leader, former Confederate general, Nathan Bedford Forrest. Quotes and pictures of former slaves are included at the end of many chapters to offset the primary source caricatures and KKK published notices, delivering a balanced portrayal of social sentiment and viewpoints. Bartoletti is careful not to tell a biased story that ignores the actions or responses of the parties involved, including violent retaliation from blacks, passive acceptance of KKK violence by white ministers, and northern tactics to keep blacks in the south. However, the author does include inspirational accounts of people of both races who went against the grain, showing that things were not so clearly black and white. In her best neutral tone, Bartoletti shares the chaotic nature of racism in the 19th century in the south, by allowing primary sources to speak for themselves, dialect and all. I would particularly recommend this book to sixth grade students and up who are doing research or are clearly interested in race relations and law in America’s history.

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