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A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan's Plot to Take Over America, and the Woman Who Stopped Them
by Timothy Egan

Published: 2023-04-04T00:0
Hardcover : 432 pages
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Recommended to book clubs by 1 of 1 members
AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"With narrative elan, Egan gives us a riveting saga of how a predatory con man became one of the most powerful people in 1920s America, Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, with a plan to rule the country—and how a grisly murder of a woman brought ...

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Introduction

AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"With narrative elan, Egan gives us a riveting saga of how a predatory con man became one of the most powerful people in 1920s America, Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, with a plan to rule the country—and how a grisly murder of a woman brought him down. Compelling and chillingly resonant with our own time." —Erik Larson, author of The Splendid and the Vile

“Riveting…Egan is a brilliant researcher and lucid writer.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

A historical thriller by the Pulitzer and National Book Award-winning author that tells the riveting story of the Klan's rise to power in the 1920s, the cunning con man who drove that rise, and the woman who stopped them.

The Roaring Twenties--the Jazz Age--has been characterized as a time of Gatsby frivolity. But it was also the height of the uniquely American hate group, the Ku Klux Klan. Their domain was not the old Confederacy, but the Heartland and the West. They hated Blacks, Jews, Catholics and immigrants in equal measure, and took radical steps to keep these people from the American promise. And the man who set in motion their takeover of great swaths of America was a charismatic charlatan named D.C. Stephenson.

Stephenson was a magnetic presence whose life story changed with every telling. Within two years of his arrival in Indiana, he’d become the Grand Dragon of the state and the architect of the strategy that brought the group out of the shadows – their message endorsed from the pulpits of local churches, spread at family picnics and town celebrations. Judges, prosecutors, ministers, governors and senators across the country all proudly proclaimed their membership. But at the peak of his influence, it was a seemingly powerless woman – Madge Oberholtzer – who would reveal his secret cruelties, and whose deathbed testimony finally brought the Klan to their knees.

A FEVER IN THE HEARTLAND marries a propulsive drama to a powerful and page-turning reckoning with one of the darkest threads in American history.

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Discussion Questions

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What was the most impactful aspect of this book you found?
What parallels do you see between the story in this book and other eras of American history?
Looking at other eras where white supremacy, patriarchy, anti-immigration and religious hegemony predominated, how were these social elements resolved or suppressed?
by [email protected] (see profile) 04/08/24

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by Linda A. (see profile) 04/09/24

 
  "Why didn't I know more about this history?"by Eleanor L. (see profile) 04/08/24

I studied American history in school and have read numerous books about American history, but I never knew about the resurrection of the KKK during the 30's. This powerful book opened my eyes to the horrors... (read more)

 
by Lisa F. (see profile) 03/04/24

 
by Karen W. (see profile) 01/21/24

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