Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan / Edition 1

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Behind the Mask of Chivalry brings the "invisible phalanx" of the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s into broad daylight, culling from history the names, the life stories, and the driving motivations of the anonymous Klansmen beneath the white hoods and robes. Author Nancy MacLean exposes the inner workings of the Klan movement, and explains how it was able to attract millions of American men. Using an unusual and rich cache of internal Klan records from Athens, Georgia to anchor her observations, she combines a fine-grained portrait of a local Klan world with a penetrating analysis of the movement's ideas and politics nationwide. The result is a new, multi-dimensional understanding of the social conditions, cultural currents, and ordinary men that built this archetypal American reactionary movement. This book reveals how and why the Klan achieved a level of power and influence unmatched by any other American right-wing movement. The second Klan mobilized a nationwide following largely through campaigns waged over concerns that today would be called "family values": Prohibition violation, premarital sex, lewd movies, anxieties about women's changing roles, and worries over waning parental authority. Issues of gender and family life were essential to the movement. Yet, MacLean shows, crusades over "morals" always operated in the service of the Klan's larger agenda of virulent racial hatred and middle-class revanchism. The men who deplored sex among young people and sought to restore the power of husbands and fathers also wanted to make the U.S. a "white man's country," by taking the vote from blacks and barring immigrants. In vigilante terror, Klansmen acted out their movement's driving, brutal determination to maintain inherited hierarchies of race, class, and gender. Comparing the Klan to European fascist movements that grew out of the crucible of the First World War, MacLean maintains that the remarkable scope and frenzy of the movement is less a measure of members' p

Based on internal Klan documents and impeccably researched, The Mask of Chivalry describes how and why the Ku Klux Klan rose to extraordinary popularity in the 1920s--through campaigns waged over issues perceived by members to threaten their middle class family values, yet always serving a larger agenda of virulent racial hatred. Compelling reading.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An ambitious addition to a now long list of revisionist local studies of the Klan. It is the first of these books to focus on a southern community or state, and the first to place gender squarely at the center in explaining the extraordinary popularity of the men's Klan."--The Journal of American History

"One of the most insightful and authoritative works on the Klan. It will serve as the standard work on the Klan of the 20s for decades to come."--Professor David Williams, Valdosta State University

"[T]his is an important book. It is recommended for all students of the South, African Americans, and violence in American history."--History

"Behind the Mask of Chivalry is a well-written...analysis of the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s."--Journal of Social History

"This is a big book about a small place....Its dark vision of the American heartland is bound to stir lively debate."--The New York Times Book Review

"This without a doubt the best done on the Klan in the 1920s....[W]hat emerges is a portrait of racial division in this country that is frightening, and important to understand."--LIATT, September 1995

"Using a rich cache of Klan records from Athens, Georgia, MacLean shows how and why the Klan achieved a level of power and influence unmatched by other American right-wing groups."--The Black Scholar

"Behind the Mask of Chivalry is a unique and well-researched resource on the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s. Nancy MacLean's book is an invaluable work for scholars or anyone interested in this little-documented era of Klan history."--Morris Dees, The Southern Poverty Law Center

"An elegant and sophisticated book that goes a long way toward unraveling the puzzle of the twentieth-century Ku Klux Klan."--Edward L. Ayers, author of The Promise of the New South: Life after Reconstruction

"In a major new interpretation, MacLean puts the Ku Klux Klan in racial, sexual, class and even international context. This powerful book will challenge all of us to rethink the nature and potential of American right wing movements."--Linda Gordon, author of Heroes of Their own Lives: The Politics and History of Family Violence

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195098365
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 7/13/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 749,200
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 5.32 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Author: Nancy K. MacLean is Assistant Professor of History at Northwestern University.

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Table of Contents

1 Mobilizing the Invisible Army 3
2 "Where Money Rules and Morals Rot": The Vise of Modernity 23
3 Men in the Middle: The Class Composition of the Klan 52
4 Reactionary Populism: The Politics of Class 77
5 "Cleaning Up" Morality: The Politics of Sex and Age 98
6 The Approaching Apocalypse: The Politics of Race 125
7 Paramilitary Paternalism: The Politics of Terror 149
8 Conclusion: The Second Klan in Larger Perspective 177
Appendices 189
Abbreviations Used in Notes 193
Notes 197
Bibliography 255
Index 283
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