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Hooded Americanism is a factual book, written with very little opinionated input from the author. It was clear that the David Chalmers wrote this book to inform people of the Klan and their history, not to share his own views. This book is a formal essay for several reasons. Most obviously, the author never uses “I”, “me”, or “my” throughout the whole book. The lack of personal emotion from the author leads to this book being very dry. Although the sentences in the book were clear cut without any unnecessary adjectives or emphasis, they were very long and included technical words.
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David Chalmers has written many books in the political science genre, but Hooded Americanism was the first book that he wrote that was meant to be a reference. Anyone that wants to travel into one of the darkest areas of our nation’s history would enjoy reading this book. Readers that want the facts and truth behind the Klan, and are not satisfied with only seeing the negative image that the media has portrayed of the Klan, should read this book. The book was clearly written for an adult audience. Towards the end of the book, David Chalmers goes into detail when describing various acts of violence that the KKK performed. For example, in chapter forty-five, the author describes floggings of African Americans, and burning of Jewish synagogues. Without these detailed accounts though, the author would have been unsuccessful in his purpose for writing. When reading, it became apparent that Chalmers wrote the book to inform the reader of the real purposes of the Ku Klux Klan, and to help clear up false representations. Through his presented research, the author was able to refute many of the accusations that the KKK faced throughout its strongest years, and still faces today. An example of a stereotype is that the Klan only impacted the South. The author quickly contests this by going through the states and displaying the roles of many Klan members in the community and government. More specifically, Mr. Chalmers shows that many governments in the mid-western states were ruled by the KKK. The author intended for Hooded Americanism to be used as a reference book, while also revealing the thoughts of Americans towards the Klan and their successes and failures in spreading its’ beliefs around the country.
Despite being a formal essay, the author expresses the information with an unintentional undertone. After reading only the first page, the author already shows signs of being pro-Klan. The second paragraph of the book is spent comparing the beliefs of the Ku Klux Klan to those of political or religious figures, suggesting that what they do is not unheard of and somewhat rational. Chalmers also states, “Not a single solitary reason has yet been advanced for putting the Ku Klux Klan out of business.”(Chalmers 1) This is looked upon as though the author has no rationale for disapproving of the Klan or any of its actions. The author describes the Klan as “persistent” (385) and “determined” (263), showing some positive qualities of the Klan. Also, when reading a book about such horrible, prejudice events the reader may expect to see the words “racist” or “extremist”, but in Hooded Americanism, none of those words will be found. In several places David Chalmers defends the Klan, claiming that hatred towards the Klan is unpatriotic. Throughout the book the author rarely negatively talks about the violence that the KKK committed, and in a few areas of the book even defends the Klan and their stance on issues. In spite of Chalmers attempts to keep Hooded Americanism strictly a resource, he lets his outlook towards the Klan slip through.
Hooded Americanism did not posses any qualities of a narrative. The information in the book was not organized chronologically. Since the author went through the states and shared the history of the Klan in that particular state, the dates were scrambled all over the book. The end of the KKK’s history in one state often ran through the beginning of their history in another state. The book isn’t descriptive either. As earlier stated, the author’s information is very cut and dry and straight to the point. Rarely does David Chalmers use explanatory sentences. As a reader you must have an interest in the Klan, because using his writing style makes it very difficult to paint a picture and intrigue yourself. Hooded Americanism is inadvertently persuasive. The authors’ intentions are not to make the reader approve of the Klan, but rather to encourage the reader to not only base their opinions of the Ku Klux Klan on what they have heard or seen on the media. The author makes a point to show that event though the Klan has done terrible things, seldom are they ever looked upon as a political group that contributed too many of our states’ governments and given the recognition they deserve. Chalmers never comes out and expresses that he is for or against the Klan, but his opinions on topics are repeatedly gestured through his tone of voice and wording of passages. For example, “The stuff of which Klansmen are made of is a part of American society.” (375) The book is also expository. Although it lacks a central focus or main idea, details and studies are used to develop the reader’s understanding of the topic. David Chalmers uses many articles out of popular publications such as the New York Times and Washington Post to help the reader to better understand how the Klan was looked upon in earlier years. Hooded Americanism could be interesting to anyone because of the author’s strong use of research to make up for his dull writing method.
Through reading Hooded Americanism, I learned many things about the Ku Klux Klan that I would never have been taught. This was my first experience ever reading about the Klan, and I am thankful I chose the book that I did. It did not focus on members of the KKK, but instead it focused on the group as a whole. This led to me to gain a much better understanding of why the Klan was created, and what their purpose was for doing the things they did. It showed me that the KKK was much more focused on their political power then harming minorities. The fact that I was most taken back by, was that the Klan did not only dislike African Americans, they were also against those who practiced the Hebrew faith, homosexuals, Muslims, and anyone else who supported the Union’s stance on the controversies that caused America’s Civil War. That did not just mean that they supported slavery. They also avidly fought against many of the tariffs and various Acts that the United States agreed to before the secession. Through my reading of this book, I was also able to answer the question of why the KKK is always remembered as a group that formed because they hated people. At the beginning of their history, the Klan experienced very little success as a political power. Because of this, they were unable to make any drastic changes to our government that the average person would be informed of. Rather then being remembered for their influence in our country and persistence as a struggling group, they will always be remembered for the horrible things that they did, which are certainly much more memorable. After completing Hooded Americanism, I was actually unable to remember any of the dates or numbers that David Chalmers fired out so regularly, but I will always remember the Ku Klux Klan’s influence on our country, and the impact that they have had since the end of the Civil War.
ew York: Double Day and Company, 1965. 1-420.