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The Fiery Cross: The Ku Klux Klan in America Paperback – November 19, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0195123579 ISBN-10: 0195123573 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (November 19, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195123573
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195123579
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 1.3 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #148,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This doggedly researched history of the American racist group is bloated with cliches, overstatements, colloquialisms, sensationalistic accounts of sexual atrocities and nonsensical connections (a detailed description of Grant's second inaugural ball that took place in an unheated building is followed by the observation that "over the next four years, the Republican ardor for civil rights would cool"). Wade's historical insights are often inane, as when he discusses Grant's suspension of habeas corpus in implementing the Ku-Klux Act: "Although it must be admitted that martial law is never pleasant, the effects of military occupation in South Carolina were far less dreadful than the picture anti-Reconstruction historians would popularize." And his psychological analyses are ludicrous: "Klan attacks on scalawags often involved some kind of sexual abuse. . . . as if the behavior of the scalawags represented a form of infidelity to the South, and Klansmen gladly assumed the role of vengeful spouses." Wade is the author of The Titanic: End of a Dream. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Wade's journalistic approach brings alive the hydra-headed Klan: from its 19th-century Southern origins; to its 20th-century celebration in film; to its 1915-20s national emergence as a small-town, rural mix of narrow-mindedness, prejudice, and violence against blacks, Catholics, and Jews; to its increasingly anti-Communist poses since the New Deal; to its most recent incarnation in such varied and conflicting types as the "intellectual" David Duke and the paramilitary Bill Wilkinson. Although more descriptive than analytical, Wade's book shows how the Klan has assumed various guises over time, and how recent groups have lapsed back into the anarchy that prevailed in the KKK's infancy. Wade discovers the Klan as a singularly American beast, created by the very democratic ideals it mocks and inverts. Recommended for public and university libraries.Randall M. Miller, History Dept., St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By J. Weaver on June 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
I believe that the other reviewers are being a little harsh. I have surveyed a good deal of the Klan literature, and found this book actually "fairly" good in comparison. Do I think that it is unbiased or totally accurate? - NO. But it is better than most current academic research, which when dealing with a topic such as this goes out of its way to condemn the Klan. From the standpoint of organizational history, this book is the best that I have come across. Wade's social analysis is suspect however. I do recommend it however, for anyone interested in the internal power struggles and organizational history of the Klan. The Klan literature which Wade includes is also fascinating.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Phillips on February 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
In this book Wyn Wade has given us a very good overview but not an extremely detailed look at the Ku Klux Klan. That is not to say that he has not done his research for he has found lots of material. The simple fact is that a book of this length cannot possibly cover the subject in any great depth. That would require a book at least twice this long, and probably three times as long. This book was obviously not intended to be a Shelby Foote type narrative of the Klan, but the basic survey that it is.
Wade has done a good job with the post reconstruction Klan, but he tends to take revisionist history a bit too far. One thing that puzzles me is that he refers to Tennessee as the, "the only border state" that left the Union. Many historians refer to the Volunteer State as a border state even though it was surrounded by slave states on all sides, so I can let that part of the statement slide. I have never however heard of Tennessee referred to as a border state without at least Virginia and Arkansas also receiving that label. It's not a big thing I realize, but it did bug me.
After reconstruction, Wade takes the reader to the history of D.W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation", the movie that made the rebirth and rise of the post World War I Klan possible. Then he traces the new Klan through its phenomenal growth to its demise. Wade then moves on to the Cold War anti-Communist Klan, the Civil Rights era Klan, the David Duke Klan, and today's Aryan crowd. He does a fine job of bringing out the personalities of various Klan leaders and giving the lowdown on various politicians who, while not Klansmen themselves, were more than happy to court Klan support. He also does an outstanding job of telling the story of Klan violence, with special attention to the victims.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
The Fiery Cross is the best one-volume history of the Ku Klux Klan I have read. I have always had a hard time accepting the claims of the academics that historically, Klan membership in America was a civic-minded, even virtuous impulse on the part of ordinary citizens. (How the academics manage to say this in view of the Klan's anti-ethnic activities has always stumped me.) Wyn Craig Wade reveals the historic KKK in all its aberrant glory. Of special interest, I believe, is his chapter on the KKK's triumph in Indiana during the 1920s. It seems anomalous that this landlocked midwestern Hoosier empire, rather than some southern state, was the KKK's major stronghold during the decade it reached its greatest national prominence. Wade explains how KKK organizers skillfully exploited Indiana's penchants for organized religion, joining clubs, and arrogance. At one point, thousands of people accepted as true a rumor that the Pope was going to relocate the Vatican to Indiana. Why? Simply because Indiana was the most desirable real estate on earth.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Ku Klux Klan may not be a pleasant topic. In fact, the KKK is a black eye the United States of America is slowly healing from. I picked up this book because I wanted to learn more about the dark history of the KKK. This book is a read that can enlighten readers, or history buffs about the history of the KKK. Also, this book gives people an idea of what makes the KKK tick, and shows the efforts of the KKK throughout American history to cover up their true intentions, racist terror. This book explores the KKK's birth after the Civil War, the rebirth of the KKK in 1915, the rise and fall of the KKK in the 1920s, etc. The book then covers the KKK's sporatic growth through the rest of the 20th century, all the way up the present day where people now know ways to combat the KKK and the terror they bring. If you are interested in any part of American history read this book. Just because a topic is not pleasant doesn't mean it should be ignored.
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