The best books about the 1920s Ku Klux Klan in Oregon and the USA

Jeff Stookey Author Of Dangerous Medicine
By Jeff Stookey

Who am I?

When I first moved to Portland, Oregon, I heard about the 1988 murder of an Ethiopian student by skinheads of the White Aryan Resistance. A famous trial subsequently bankrupted that white supremacist organization. When I began writing my trilogy, set in 1923, I learned about the strength of the Oregon KKK during the 1920s. I could see a direct line between the bigotry of that era and contemporary Portland. The more I studied the Klan of the 20s, the more I knew this information had to be part of my novels. Besides these book recommendations, I read numerous articles about Klan history. Everyone should learn this history.

I wrote...

Dangerous Medicine

By Jeff Stookey,

Book cover of Dangerous Medicine

What is my book about?

In this last book of the trilogy, Carl Holman struggles to navigate his medical career in the face of pressures from the growing social and political influence of the KKK, societal expectations to marry and have children, and other forces beyond his control. As he makes difficult decisions about his professional and domestic affairs, can Carl and those he loves find a way to live authentic lives in this hostile world?

“Jeff Stookey’s engaging novel is a brilliantly written story set in the tough Prohibition era. An excellent contribution to the history of our city, the book is also a page-turner. I had to know what happened next.” - Don DuPay, author his memoir Behind the Badge in River City

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Inside the Klavern, the Secret History of a Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s

Why did I love this book?

As a writer, this book enabled me to get inside the mindset of Eastern Oregon Klan members in the 1920s. The heart of the book is the weekly meeting minutes of a local KKK chapter, which allowed me to see through the eyes of the men who made up this organization from May 1922 through April 1924. Their concerns included recruiting new members, supporting Klan-friendly political leaders at all levels of government, preventing Catholics from employment in teaching and other positions, and supporting a state bill that would ban Catholic schools. All this helped me create realistic characters with social and political views that are very different from my own.

By David A. Horowitz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Inside the Klavern, the Secret History of a Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is an annotated collection of the minutes of a thriving Ku Klux Klan in La Grande, Oregon, between 1922 and 1924. The most complete set of Klan minutes ever uncovered, these documents illustrate the inner workings of a Klan chapter of more than 300 members at the time when the national membership reached into the millions and the Invisible Empire was at the peak of its power. Through an extensive introduction and conclusion as well as brief notes previewing each installment of the minutes, the author seeks to place these documents in historical perspective. The La Grande minutes demonstrate…

Book cover of Murder & Scandal in Prohibition Portland: Sex, Vice & Misdeeds in Mayor Baker's Reign

Why did I love this book?

As a fiction writer trying to depict 1920s Portland, Oregon, I found limitless inspiration from this book. Chandler and Kennedy give the background leading up to Prohibition, chronicling the women’s temperance and suffrage movements; the establishment opposition to the International Workers of the World, the Wobblies; the organized crime in the city and police corruption; and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. When George Baker became mayor in 1917, he took advantage of all these elements to control a system of corruption that kept him in power. While the book does not focus on the KKK, it offers important details about its powerful influence on this particular city at this time in history.

By J D Chandler, Theresa Griffin Kennedy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Murder & Scandal in Prohibition Portland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The 1917 election of Mayor George Luis Baker ushered a long era of unscrupulous greed into Portland government. While supposedly enforcing prohibition laws, Baker ordered police chief Leon Jenkins to control and profit from the bootlegging market. Baker filled city coffers and his friends' pockets with booze-soaked cash while sensational headlines like the 1929 affair between policeman Bill Breuning and informant Anna Schrader scandalized the city. Maligned in the press, Schrader executed a bitter campaign to recall the mayor. In 1933, a hired gunman murdered special investigator to the governor Frank Aiken a day before he would have filed a…

Book cover of Women of the Klan: Racism and Gender in the 1920s

Why did I love this book?

I couldn’t have written my trilogy without reading this book. It taught me so much about the women in the KKK, their attitudes and beliefs, their social status and background, their activities and support for the Klan, and so much more. The book is so deeply researched that it provides keen insights into the gender politics of the 1920s, the differing ways of thinking between the men in the Klan versus the women in the Klan, and their dissimilar approaches to carrying out “Klanishness.” The women that Blee describes held the typical mainstream views of white, Protestant, native-born Americans, who were the overwhelming majority in their communities. This book enhanced my understanding of Klan women so that I could create realistic Klan women characters in my novels.

By Kathleen M. Blee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Women of the Klan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ignorant. Brutal. Male. One of these stereotypes of the Ku Klux Klan offer a misleading picture. In "Women of the Klan", sociologist Kathleen Blee unveils an accurate portrait of a racist movement that appealed to ordinary people throughout the country. In so doing, she dismantles the popular notion that politically involved women are always inspired by pacifism, equality, and justice. "All the better people," a former Klanswoman assures us, were in the Klan.During the 1920s, perhaps half a million white native-born Protestant women joined the Women's Ku Klux Klan (WKKK). Like their male counterparts, Klanswomen held reactionary views on race,…

Book cover of A Brief History of Fear and Intolerance in Tillamook County

Why did I love this book?

I love Hill’s passion for elucidating our history in order to combat prejudice. She approaches the origins of fear and intolerance from diverse perspectives, starting with violent clashes between 1700s explorers and indigenous peoples of Oregon’s Pacific coast. She describes the long history of stealing Oregon land from natives, and how the US Civil War contributed to the exclusion of African Americans from Oregon in its state constitution. Later she shows how D. W. Griffith’s movie The Birth of a Nation was instrumental in the re-emergence of the KKK in the 1920s, and WWI propaganda against Germans and fear of Bolshevism contributed to Klan hatred of immigrants. In later chapters Hill brings us up to the present summarizing anti-LGBTQ political initiatives and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Book cover of The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition

Why did I love this book?

I value this book for its thorough description of the many elements that made the Klan of the 1920s so ascendant: its hostility toward immigrants, big city liberal elites, intellectuals, Jews, Catholics, and fear of the many changes in society. The author says she began writing an article about 20th-century American social movements, but because of the 2016 election, expanded it into this book. Similarly, I felt the same urgency to complete my trilogy and get it out to the public at that time. Just as I tried to portray 1920 parallels with our contentious politics today, Gordon concludes by illuminating correlations between the 1920s KKK and contemporary right-wing beliefs, and their similarities and differences regarding European fascism. Bigotry-fueled fear waxes and wanes in America.

By Linda Gordon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Second Coming of the KKK as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Extraordinary national acclaim accompanied the publication of award-winning historian Linda Gordon's disturbing and markedly timely history of the reassembled Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s. Dramatically challenging our preconceptions of the hooded Klansmen responsible for establishing a Jim Crow racial hierarchy in the 1870s South, this "second Klan" spread in states principally above the Mason-Dixon line by courting xenophobic fears surrounding the flood of immigrant "hordes" landing on American shores. "Part cautionary tale, part expose" (Washington Post), The Second Coming of the KKK "illuminates the surprising scope of the movement" (The New Yorker); the Klan attracted four-to-six-million members through secret…

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