Unmasking the Klansman: The Double Life of Asa and Forrest Carter

NewSouth. Apr. 2023. 400p. ISBN 9781588384812. $28.95. BIOG
Prize-winning historian Carter (emeritus, Univ. of South Carolina Educational Foundation; The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, The Origins of the New Conservatism and the Transformation of American Politics) exposes the violent, antisemitic, Alabama white supremacist Asa Earl Carter (1925–79), who might possibly be the author’s distant cousin. The book portrays the rabble-rousing KKK member as someone who pretended to have Cherokee heritage. He wrote three novels, including The Rebel Outlaw and The Education of Little Tree, posthumously a 1991 New York Times paperback best-seller that was published in 1976 as an authentic Indigenous childhood memoir. This scrupulously documented biography traces the subject’s life from his childhood on a farm to his becoming a U.S. Navy officer-training washout, college dropout, political instigator, and secret speechwriter of Alabama governor George Wallace’s 1963 inaugural address. After his own failed 1970 gubernatorial bid, Carter settled in Texas and worked as writer of Westerns named Forrest Carter, denying his past as Asa. The page-turning story details three decades of detective work.
VERDICT More than a biography, this book takes readers on a journey of moral reflection on U.S. history that puts in full views white supremacy’s persisting rationale of racist theology, Christian nationalism, and hateful right-wing politics.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing