School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 6-9-Beginning with Samuel Parris, the original Salem witch-hunter, Streissguth covers individual American leaders who used inflammatory language to incite violence against their enemies. While clearly opposed to all of their positions, the author's readable approach is well balanced with understandable descriptions of social conditions that led people to support these demagogic politicians. To his credit, he forthrightly faces the question of whether Louis Farrakhan is a demagogue or a responsible leader, though he dismisses skinheads and neo-Nazi groups as lacking visible national leadership. The well-captioned, black-and-white reproductions and photographs add atmosphere to the text. The bibliography cites authoritative sources. For a slightly older audience, Susan Lang's Extremist Groups in America (Watts, 1990) and Michael Kronenwetter's United They Hate (Walker, 1992) both focus on social forces and groups, and include considerably more information. Lang's book is more of a current catalog of groups, while Kronenwetter's provides longer-term perspective and deeper explanations. John Langone's Spreading Poison (Little, 1993) covers racism and prejudice with much more passion than Streissguth displays. Hatemongers will be more useful to students of American history than to those curious about present-day trends.Jonathan Betz-Zall, Sno-Isle Regional Library System, Edmonds, WA
Hazel RochmanStarting with the Salem witch trials in colonial times, Streissguth looks at the history of bigotry and racism in this country, with a special focus on the leaders who have fanned the hatred and anger. There are chapters on the Ku Klux Klan and its leaders, on the radio priest Father Charles Coughlin, on the anti-Communist hysteria of Senator McCarthy, on the Nazi leader George Rockwell, and on others. The only contemporary leader discussed is Louis Farrakhan, and too little is said of the pervasive white racism among us today. However, the history does provide a valuable overview for understanding past and present prejudice, especially since attention is paid to social and economic conditions that contributed to the scapegoating of "them." The writing style is clear, and occasional black-and-white photos give a sense of the times. There are no source notes; a brief bibliography is included.
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