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The Clansman (The Reconstruction Trilogy #2)

2.58  ·  Rating Details ·  173 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
The year was 1865. With the close of the Civil War, there began for the South, an era of even greater turmoil. In The Clansman, his controversial 1905 novel, later the basis of the motion picture The Birth of a Nation, Thomas Dixon, describes the social, political, and economic disintegration that plagued the South during Reconstruction, depicting the rise of the Ku Klux K ...more
Paperback, 374 pages
Published December 31st 1970 by University Press of Kentucky (first published 1905)
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Apr 29, 2008 Werner rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Not recommended --except to recycled paper dealers!
The good discussion one of my comments sparked about the misguided ways some writers treat the subject of rape brought to mind this piece of dreck, which I read back at a time when I had much more morbid curiosity in my reading tastes than I do now (obviously, I read an older edition). Dixon was a vile racist; in this novel, the Klan are portrayed as heroes, and virtually all of the black characters are depicted in a highly derogatory fashion --the one exception being a former slave who's presen ...more
Nov 04, 2012 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Too complex, see review
Recommended to Jason by: Found original in great-granddaddy's things
Shelves: 2015
(For the actual review, scroll down (it's clearly marked). I indulge myself with some family flim-flam and general history for a few paragraphs first, though it's all tangentially related to the book).

It took 3 days shy of 2 years, but I finally finished this. The reason it took so long is not due to it being a bad book (just look at the rating I gave it), but because I have a 1907 version that used to to belong to my great-grandfather. I stumbled upon it as mama and I were purging her extensive
Jan 09, 2016 Shaun rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history students
This controversial novel by Thomas Dixon, written in 1905, tells a story of how a man, a county, a state and ultimately the southern people fought back against the North during the period of reconstruction. Following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the North installs puppet "negro governments" in the southern states by granting negroes suffrage. This leads to chaos as "Now a negro electorate controlled the city government, and gangs of drunken negroes, its sovereign citizens, paraded the s ...more
One of my first, and still favorite, silent films is The Birth of a Nation, and I read this book for HS Freshman English class after I saw the movie. My enthusiasm for silent movies probably went way over those kids' heads and they no doubt thought me an out-and-out racist. Hah.

Just as the movie is a rip-roaring melodrama with an overall atrocious sentiment, so is the novel. It really is a perfect book to get into the mindset of the die-hard Lost Cause movement that got a major shot in the arm w
Alexis Chateau
Aug 19, 2013 Alexis Chateau rated it did not like it
Racist. Boring. And rambling.

From this book I learned that vengeance is only acceptable when a White man on a horse carries it out. For a "flat footed Black hooligan" to carry it out against men who enslaved him for years is just wrong.

I've read a lot of other books written by Caucasians in this era and never came across anything like this. Memorable read, but not for the right reasons.
Peyton Smith
Mar 26, 2008 Peyton Smith rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The quintessential piece of Lost Cause propaganda. This novel is full of racial stereotypes and overt prejudices against "the North." The only thing that offers this book merit is that it stands as a perfect glimpse into the mind of a Southerner in the early 1900s... But, if you want that your time would be better spent reading Faulkner.
Aug 30, 2007 Thara rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: people who want to read racist social history.
Chill out, I'm reading it for class.
Richard Epstein
Oct 14, 2014 Richard Epstein rated it did not like it
If it weren't for Thomas Dixon, Jr., Josh wouldn't have to keep teaching "Birth of a Nation." We were not spared even by Dixon's passing through the opal gates of death.
Matthew Hunter
I'm a film buff, so when I found out that D.W. Griffith's controversial The Birth of a Nation was based on Thomas Dixon Jr.'s novel The Clansman, the novel became a must-read for me.

The book and movie together are credited with a rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan, including in northern states like my parent's home of Indiana. The Northern Indiana Center for History reports that by 1924, less than 20 years after The Clansman's publication, Klan membership reached 30% of the state's white adult male pop
Jul 15, 2013 Anthony rated it really liked it
Shelves: civil-war, history, novels
July 10, 2013
A review by Anthony T. Riggio of The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan by Thomas Dixon Jr.

This is an historical novel by a Southerner attempting to justify the need and rise of the Klu Klux Clan written in 1905, forty years after the Civil War. His story revolves around some of the truly unintended consequences of reconstruction, hijacked by vindictive Northern politicians and greedy profiteers.

Several reviewers brand the author a “vile racist” and a “White Suprema
Patricia Dietz
The author of this book lived through the post-Civil War Reconstruction period in the south. Laying aside his personal hatred and profound contempt for blacks (if that's possible, as the book is full of it)a few things stood out for me. One was the extent to which, back in those days, women truly were the possessions of their male relatives to the point where their husbands, fathers or brothers would literally rather put a bullet through the woman's head than permit her to shame herself or the f ...more
Bubba Frank II
Apr 07, 2009 Bubba Frank II rated it it was amazing
A must read.
Dec 11, 2013 Joelichtenauer rated it it was amazing
Aug 18, 2010 Brian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Without a doubt the worst book I've ever read. Had I not had to read this for a college course, I would have not been able to finish it. Absolutely atrocious.
Apr 29, 2009 John rated it liked it
Despite all the controversy surrounding this book and the film, "Birth of A Nation," the Clansman is a great historcal read.
Nov 23, 2016 Kerri rated it did not like it
If I didn't have to read it for class I wouldn't have continued. The most racist piece of garbage I've ever read.
Jan 13, 2015 Brandon rated it it was ok
Had to read this for a class, and of course I wasn't expecting it to be any good at all. The first half was actually somewhat entertaining. That is, it was very readable, and I wasn't bored really, and the racism wasn't so troublesome at that point. It then completely shit the bed by Part 3. The drawls of the black characters didn't even seem organic like in, say, Kate Chopin's Cajun stories, but were rather just flat-out awfully written, in that it was actually difficult to read, not even becau ...more
Amy Griffith
Mar 19, 2016 Amy Griffith rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-for-me
This was a hard book to review. First of all, I feel I have to explain why I even decided to read a book about such a subject.

I finished Gone With the Wind not too long ago. As I expected, I enjoyed it greatly, but I also came away wanting to know more about Reconstruction. I realized that all of my history books growing up had just dedicated a paragraph or two to the subject, glossing over the definition of a carpet bagger and then moving on. Mitchell's book went into much more detail, ascribin
Todd Stockslager
Jun 09, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
As literature, this novel (the source of "The Birth of a Nation", the first feature-length motion picture) is laughably dated by its flowery romanticism. As history, its twisted adoration of the Klan, highly-colored and cynical condemnation of Northern abolitionism, and even fallen-hero worship of Abraham Lincoln as the would-be savior of the defeated south is execrable. But as social history (and part of "The Novel as American Social History" series from the University of Kentucky Press) it is ...more
Dean Muscat
Some books you pick up knowing fully well that you aren't going to love or even like necessarily, however you know they will be insightful into understanding certain mindsets that have, for better or worse, shaped a part of history. So given its plot concerning the Ku Klux Klan and its unveiled message of the need to maintain racial segregation, I knew I was not going to enjoy The Clansman. It was meant to be a mere curiosity read as part of my MA dissertation. To a certain degree I have dealt w ...more
Oct 18, 2016 Lee rated it it was ok
Shelves: classics
I was actually surprised, I enjoyed the first 1/2 or 2/3 of the book, it was very much the polictical views of a disgruntled southerner, it was nice to hear their viewpoint and try to see things from their point of view, the only times you really hear it from them it is coming from some fat redneck in a hood or someone opposed to their viewpoint telling us why the Southerners are wrong.

The problem started in the second half of the book when the black characters came into it and were given the fr
Elaine Gullotta
Apr 29, 2015 Elaine Gullotta rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: researcher on political reformation before and after the killing of Lincoln
Recommended to Elaine by: got at
I picked up this book at an antique store because as I flipped through the pages it referred to Scottish lineage which I am interested in. It is was poorly written but interesting from a racist propaganda research perspective. I was unhappy to learn that "The Clan" or "Clansman" (as in white men in white sheets), actually comes from the Scottish term for families (like in the movie Braveheart). Yes, of course immigrants retained their Scottish familial pride and terminology in the south…it just ...more
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Jan 02, 2017 Kmkoppy rated it did not like it
Shelves: african-american
I only read this for the historical perspective. It was just as I expected. The writing wasn't engaging or sophisticated. It didn't stretch the imagination or provide anything significant. It basically rationalized the development of the KKK which only an irrational person would find convincing. I also read Mein Kampf with the same purpose in mind. I think it's important to discover the thought process that promotes racist beliefs in order to be able to argue against these dangerous groups.
Jul 31, 2015 Larissa rated it did not like it
The subtitle just doesn't work: Historical Romance and the Ku Klux Klan, really seems odd to put those things in the same sentence!!!! The further you get into the book the worst it got for me! I hated the reaction of the white men over freed blacks having their revenge, like it was so wrong of them to be seeking some justice after so long suffering and being brutalised under slavery! How short the memory of the white man is when the tables are turned!!!

Pretty racist book this one!!!
Reza Amiri Praramadhan
Consisted of four parts, I wondered myself throughout the first half, why this book can be put on par with literatures such as Mein Kampf? for it was mostly about romanticised view on life in the South. And then came the second half, full of white supremacist views. I guess what makes this book better than Mein Kampf is that this was just a novel, rather than Mein Kampf which was Hitler's ranting and raving about Jews and Subhumans.
Dawn Wells
Very over the top book on racism, north vs south, powerless women and the birth of the KKK. Not worth even one star the author is not an interesting writer. Everything was so over dramatized in the book you couldn't become engaged with the story. What is amazing is the fact that there is still a KKK and though they don't represent as many as they take credit for there is a following of new believers. Will we ever move beyond the hate?
Dec 16, 2016 Jade rated it really liked it
I do not share Dixon's viewpoints, but I do think there is value in this book. Outside of the fact that it is what "The Birth of a Nation" is based on. The language of the novel is quite beautiful, and when you juxtapose that with the horrors of the content, I think that can be rather powerful. At least, as a piece against its moral.
Jim Booth
May 21, 2014 Jim Booth rated it did not like it
"A controversial book even in its own time, Dixon's novel reflects two great Southern traditions: storytelling and demagoguery." - from my review

See the full review at - link at my Goodreads page. Thanks for stopping by! :-)
Jun 03, 2010 Sarah rated it did not like it
Shelves: school-reading
Read for Race in the 19th Century class. The political stuff was strangely more maudlin than the romantic plotline. The writing is basically the equivalent of a modern-day bestseller, but with a whole lot of racist propaganda behind it.
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This is the white supremacist novelist.
More about Thomas Dixon Jr....

Other Books in the Series

The Reconstruction Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Leopard's Spots
  • The Traitor

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