THE SECOND COMING OF THE KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition by Linda Gordon is a history written in full awareness how much that Klan’s anti-immigrant, anti-semitic, anti-Catholic politics mirrors the current era, and how the Klansmen (and women) saw themselves as the Real Americans in contrast to their opponents (Jews being their biggest bogeyman). After the initial attempt to revive the Klan in the wake of Birth of a Nation flopped, a couple of PR whizzes (Elizabeth Tyler and Edward Young Clarke) bought the organization and took it national. Their trick was that along with politics they presented the KKK as a fraternal organization much like the Masons or the Elks (and it did have a lot in common with them), with the added plus that if members recruited new Klansmen, they got a commission (part of which was passed up the line). Tyler was the first of several prominent Klanswomen who found the organization a perfect outlet for ambitions as motivational speakers, organizers and businesswoman. Interesting, and depressingly familiar
When I was a tween, my impression from TV was that divorce was slightly edgy, disreputable and just not done by normal people. Ah, youth; DIVORCE: An American Tradition by Glenda Riley shows that the US was already divorcing at a much higher rate than Europeans, and had been doing so for years (the US allowed judicial divorce long before Great Britain did). Riley tracks the constant push and shove between those who wanted to make marriage eternal, those who thought an exit option was necessary, and those who thought marriage, not divorce, was the real problem (the whole “we don’t need a piece of paper to prove we love each other” of the 1960s had lots of precedent). This has lots of detail, some of it amusing, such as learning Indianapolis was once the quickie divorce capital of America (though the statistics don’t confirm the reputation). Interesting again
MARVEL MASTERWORKS: THE GOLDEN-AGE SUB-MARINER by Bill Everett and others was one I picked up on sale last year. While I’m not particularly a fan of Namor, there’s some fun to be had here; in one story, when Namor busts up a ring of radium thieves he keeps the rare element for use by his own people (not yet identified as Atlantean) rather than returning it. The backup, the Angel, is pretty fun too; the protagonist apparently has no secret identity, being the Angel full-time (not the only Golden-Age hero of whom that was true). Entertaining, but I doubt I’d have bought it at full-price.
#SFWApro. Art by Alex Schomburg, all rights remain with current holder.