Book Reviews

Flashback Book Review: They Call Themselves the KKK by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

41PPqEwhd2L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_The following review is about a book published in 2010, but I totally think it’s well worth another read. If you haven’t read it yet, you should.

Boys, let us get up a club.

With those words, six restless young men raided the linens at a friend’s mansion, pulled pillowcases over their heads, hopped on horses, and cavorted through the streets of Pulaski, Tennessee in 1866. The six friends named their club the Ku Klux Klan, and, all too quickly, their club grew into the self-proclaimed Invisible Empire with secret dens spread across the South.This is the story of how a secret terrorist group took root in America’s democracy. Filled with chilling and vivid personal accounts unearthed from oral histories, congressional documents, and diaries, this account from Newbery Honor-winning author Susan Campbell Bartoletti is a book to read and remember. A YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Finalist.” -From the Publisher.

Literary Quality:

This amazing book is of high literary quality. Bartoletti had been the recipient of various awards: Newbery Award, Sibert Medal, and the Washington Post-Children’s Gook Guild Nonfiction Award, among others. This particular book clearly shows the dedication Bartoletti puts into her works of nonfiction. The Slave Narratives may not be something middle or high school students are even aware of, so by including some of them in this book, she is giving students an idea of what the victims of the KKK experienced. I also felt she did a wonderful job staying objective, especially given the fact that the KKK committed some truly heinous actions. She represented them without overtly calling them “evil,” which allows the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.

This book also includes political cartoons from the time period and photographs from the Slave Narratives and other sources. Everything is in black and white, which adds to the historical authenticity. There is no way for Bartoletti to have been there during the formation of the KKK, so she relies on her research. The artifacts she chose to include are relevant to the book and help bring things together in one place for teens.

 Personal Reaction:

I have always been a huge fan of non-fiction. I really enjoyed looking at the pictures, cartoons, and letters included throughout. The topic was fascinating, especially considering the fact that I have never much been interested in U.S. History (though every once in a while I do find topics, like this one, that pique my interest). I will most definitely recommend this book to my history-buff patrons.


Grades 8-12. This book is fascinating and I absolutely believe that upper-middle school and all high school students will greatly enjoy this book especially considering how much more in-depth these grades go into the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Theme: Political unrest, changing times, racism/race inequality, bigotry, U.S. History, hate groups, YA Non-fiction




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