They Called Themselves the K.K.K: The Birth of An American Terrorist Group

They Called Themselves the K.K.K.-The Birth of an American Terrorist Group

book cover image from

Bartoletti, Susan Campbell.  They Called Themselves the K.K.K:  The Birth of An American Terrorist Group 172  p.  Houghton Mifflin.  2010.  ISBN  978-0-618-44033-7 .

The image of a K.K.K. hood is eerie.  Put one on the cover of a book, and it is bound to get a reaction.  Some people may look at the cover, and think, as in the words of one of my students “That’s a racist book.”  In fact, it’s not.  It’s just the opposite.   As it states in the back book flap:

The idea for this book began when the author saw a statue commemorating Nathan Bedford Forrest, the infamous Confederate cavalry general who became known as the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.  “As I looked at that statue,” writes Susan Campbell Bartoletti, “I asked myself:  Where are the statues commemorating the victims of Klan violence?
The Ku Klux Klan was formed in 1866 in Pulaski, Tennessee.  They came out under the cover of darkness,  relying on anonymity and fear.  Bartoletti sensitively tackles the topic with care.  She uses extensive primary sources to recount the stories of the K.K.K and the former slaves who were victims.  Bartoletti, who was an 8th grade teacher for many years, is truly gifted at writing to a young teen and teen audience.  She does honor her word by not censoring any of the material, so there is a very graphic element to the book.
Bartoletti’s book is hard to put down.  The extremely well-written book (really anything she writes is a must-read!) is enhanced even more by exceptional photographs, illustrations, and newspaper clippings.

Note:  For a list of excellent Civil Rights electronic resources that Mrs. Renton has selected, look at the Civil Rights section on the left hand column of the Harvest Park Welcome Page.

Genre:  Nonfiction (Dewey 322.4)

Tags: K.K.K., terrorist, Ku Klux Klan, racism, hate, Civil War, slaves, Reconstruction, Civil Rights,

A/R Reading level: 9.2

Interest level:  Grades 7-12

Link to Harvest Park Library catalog:  They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group

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