This first book-length examination of the Klan in Alabama represents
exhaustive research that challenges traditional interpretations.
The Ku Klux Klan has wielded considerable power both as
a terrorist group and as a political force. Usually viewed as appearing
in distinct incarnations, the Klans of the 20th century are now shown by
Glenn Feldman to have a greater degree of continuity than has been previously
suspected. Victims of Klan terrorism continued to be aliens, foreigners,
or outsiders in Alabama: the freed slave during Reconstruction, the 1920s
Catholic or Jew, the 1930s labor organizer or Communist, and the returning
black veteran of World War II were all considered a threat to the dominant
Feldman offers new insights into this "qualified continuity"
among Klans of different eras, showing that the group remained active during
the 1930s and 1940s when it was presumed dormant, with elements of the
"Reconstruction syndrome" carrying over to the smaller Klan of the civil
In addition, Feldman takes a critical look at opposition to
Klan activities by southern elites. He particularly shows how opponents
during the Great Depression and war years saw the Klan as an impediment
to attracting outside capital and federal relief or as a magnet for federal
action that would jeopardize traditional forms of racial and social control.
Other critics voiced concerns about negative national publicity, and others
deplored the violence and terrorism.
This in-depth examination of the Klan
in a single state, which features rare photographs, provides a means of
understanding the order's development throughout the South. Feldman's book
represents definitive research into the history of the Klan and makes a
major contribution to our understanding of both that organization and the
history of Alabama.