Klan War: Ulysses S. Grant and the Battle To Save Reconstruction

Books on Tape. Oct. 2023. 16:50 hrs. ISBN 9780593788370. $95. HIST
Emphasizing the first wave of Ku Klux Klan activity, from 1865 to 1872, Bordewich’s (Congress at War) latest, a New Yorker best book, presents an overview of KKK history. He shares not only detailed examples of vile transgressions the “first organized terror movement” in U.S. history perpetrated but also expresses President Grant’s valiant effort to implement Reconstruction after President Johnson’s failed restoration attempt. Narrator Landon Woodson’s delivery communicates the fear, terror, intimidation, anger, sorrow, and disappointment felt by those who opposed the Klan’s repressive, violent counterrevolution in the South. He uses pacing and volume sparingly while subtly injecting emotions into the production. It grabs at the heartstrings. Highlights include a nuanced reading of two threatening letters Klansmen sent to Radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens; the shock of the brutal assassination of white North Carolina state senator John Stephens by a group of KKK members who were never brought to justice; and the disgust when recounting atrocities Klan members committed.
VERDICT This emotional deep dive into the Klan’s roots and how Grant tried to suppress their impact reinforces the notion that while the Civil War may have legally ended enslavement, Reconstruction did nothing to eliminate prejudice and discrimination.
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