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The Clansman

(The Reconstruction Trilogy #2)

by
2.68  ·  Rating details ·  277 ratings  ·  67 reviews
"The first thing to be said in discussing Thomas Dixon, Jr.'s novel The Clansman is that no person of critical judgment thinks of it as having artistic conception or literary craftsmanship." - Historian Thomas D. Clark

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,
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Paperback, 374 pages
Published December 31st 1970 by University Press of Kentucky (first published 1905)
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Kurtis The Leopards's Spots, and the Traitor are the other two within the series.
I am not sure if reading the others in sequence would make any difference. …more
The Leopards's Spots, and the Traitor are the other two within the series.
I am not sure if reading the others in sequence would make any difference. It all seems to be racist gibberish that has lingered on since the first slave ships landed on San Miguel de Guadalupe.(less)
Amanda No. It's not in our nature as animals. All animals have "tribes" and groups and protect their own, with some living peacefully among others not like t…moreNo. It's not in our nature as animals. All animals have "tribes" and groups and protect their own, with some living peacefully among others not like them and some not. Forcing the opposite goes against that instinct and there will always be those who do not/cannot/will not adapt. (less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 2.68  · 
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Erin
America is under Negro reign, violence and chaos is everywhere. No one respects law & order anymore. The streets aren't safe for white women and white men can no longer support their families. The country needs a savior. It needs strong Aryan men who love their country and will fight to make it great again.

America needs The Ku Klux Klan.

The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan, is one of the most racist books ever written. I first became aware of this book after watching the sile
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Werner
Apr 29, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Not recommended --except to recycled paper dealers!
Note, Oct. 9, 2018: I edited this slightly just now, only to clarify what comments brought this book to mind to review it; in the original review, that was very ambiguous. (I was new to Goodreads at the time, and hadn't had much experience in reviewing for this site!)

A comment I made on another Goodreads thread sparked a good discussion about the misguided ways some writers treat the subject of rape. That brought to mind this piece of dreck, which I read back at a time when I had much more morbi
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Jason
Nov 04, 2012 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, civil-war
(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 three days shy of two 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 belong to my great-grandfather. I stumbled upon it as mama and I were purging her extens
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Therese
You can't just...review The Clansman. You can't apply the perfectly lovely star system provided by Goodreads that indicates your pleasure taken, your appreciation of the literary craft. The Clansman has craft and provides intrigue but...dude, it's a story of how necessary it was to organize the Ku Klux Klan to keep post-Civil War white folks from being brutalized by bitter Northern conquerors and their black lackeys.

The Klan are the good guys in this story. What are we supposed to do with THIS?
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Shaun
Jan 09, 2016 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
Thara
Aug 30, 2007 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. ...more
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
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Alexis Chateau
Aug 19, 2013 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.
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Anthony
Jul 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels, civil-war, history
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 Suprem
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Karla
Apr 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dead-tree
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
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Brian
Aug 18, 2010 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. ...more
Kerri
Nov 23, 2016 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. ...more
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
Richard Epstein
Oct 14, 2014 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. ...more
Tiffany
Surprisingly, this wasn't a bad book (You don't have to agree with the sentiment to think a book is decently written). Dixon calls this a "historical romance of the Ku Klux Klan," and it definitely is written as a romance, with very flowery language and dialogue at times that is almost phony. The events were often overly melodramatic, too. That said, it was a page-turner for me. Flowery and melodramatic, yes, but decent story.

As I read the opening sections of this, I was surprised Dixon made Lin
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T. Jacobson
Nov 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I had to read this for an American Lit class. If you can get past the hyperbole, the awful love story, and the effusive flattering of Southern pride without falling into a diabetic coma, consider yourself lucky. With Dixon blending facts and fiction to create some "Alternative Facts", it's easy to see how he could jedi mind trick some people into believing this drivel. He uses some patterns in writing that persuasive speech writers use. Thanks to critical reading skills and half a brain, I can s ...more
Aaron
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Worth your time to read. As a work juxtaposed to Uncle Tom's Cabin, there is an extraordinary amount of comparing and contrasting to do between the two. It's quite shocking how this novel does contain moments of sheer brilliance in its' political commentary. A single man in power believes the Constitution is moot and his will must be enforced at all costs? I smell sequel circa January 20, 2017... ...more
Hunter
Jul 11, 2018 rated it did not like it
The book that spawned the movie that revitalized the Ku Klux Klan? Yeah, it’s more callous and racist than you might think. I also found it poorly paced and written, but I’m not going to act as though it’s possible for me to be objective about this novel.
John
Apr 29, 2009 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. ...more
Jeff
Sep 06, 2018 rated it liked it
This is an important book to read. It was very popular at the time of its first publication and had a big impact on USA culture, as you probably know. It is written as propaganda for White Supremacy and sparked a major revival in the development of the KKK.

As a piece of propaganda, I can see why it was so successful. Dixon is a very good storyteller. He shamelessly glorifies the origins of the Klan. His writing was so effective that I could feel the emotions Dixon (a Baptist preacher) wanted to
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richard
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A descriipton and justification for the creation of the KKK. Racist in the extreme. Views Blacks as sub-human. Nasty in its depiction of African Americans.

Now, understand, the above is my reaction to the conent (some of it) of the book in 2020. (back to this fact in a minute). It was not written in 2020, but 115 years ago! That doesn't make its thesis correct but it does give some context. The book was the basis for the movie "Birth of a Nation." I have only seen bits and pieces of the movie but
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Lamar Latrell
Aug 03, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, bad-books
hoo boy. I have a lot of thoughts about this book.
When I started this book, I figured it was going to be a white supremist/mudshark cuckold fantasy, wherein at some point, a white woman falls in love with a black guy, and needs a white man to rescue her and teach her the error of her ways. I wasn’t far off. (view spoiler)
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CJ Louis
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was ok
I feel like I have heard of this book before, but only remember hearing about it from a documentary stating that it was the nidus for The Birth of a Nation. Knowing the status of the film and hearing it was based on a novel made the book an instant must have and read.

It is fascinating to read the book through today's lens and to also consider the mindset of the people during the era in which the story is set. The story is not all that compelling and but seems to make a decent argument for remo
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Kristie Hayes
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hard to read but important

it is very densely written and it seems with the level of detail is was created in a way that it could be a play or a movie. The Birth of a Nation was based off of this book. There are differences but the idea the same. Post Civil war, black people have taken over the South and it is chaos. They are presented as barbaric and dimwitted, and the book is obviously meant to be a propaganda piece. The Northerners who go South are charmed by the Southerners and start to see h
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Kathy Apple
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although the writing is sometimes hard to follow, due, I suppose to the "times" in which it was written, the story is reflective of the horrors brought on the South by carpetbaggers and vengeful Northerners. By allowing the negroes to go from protected slavery where (in mostly all situations) their every need was addressed, into positions of armed authority when they couldn't read, write, understand, stay sober and certainly not make informed decisions and lacking the intelligence and discipline ...more
Bruce clark
Aug 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
A white supremacist's remake of Reconstruction and the rise of the KKK. The first part (of 4 parts) describes Washington D.C. immediately after Lee's surrender and depicts the jubilation in the Capital at war's end. Lincoln speaks to the book's main characters in excerpts from his documented orations. These chapters give an interesting personal view of the era.

The final 3 parts are set in South Carolina. The author has nothing but praise for Southern white women and the defeated Southern rebels
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Heidi Bakk-Hansen
Dec 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
It's obviously horrifically racist propaganda, and a fever dream of white supremacy. However, it's worth reading in order to see the evolution (and persistence) of the language that is used by the racists to romance themselves into believing in that white supremacy. Honestly, this book sat on my reading table all year, and I basically powered through it so I didn't have to look at it anymore. It is an important product of its time (1905), written during the so-called Nadir of Race Relations, and ...more
Sara
Apr 20, 2021 rated it did not like it
If you want to know where Trump’s myth of election fraud comes from, look no further. The plot pretends to be about “protecting the purity of white women” (suburban women?) but it is all about political power.

The novel covers the first election after the 1867 Reconstruction Acts, when Black men were able to vote and South Carolina had the first Black majority legislature.

White women are simply a pawn, an excuse to cause violence against Black men.

Dixon tries to paint the evil during the recons
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Stan Lockey
Apr 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Humans have been racist for over 6,000 years , it's human nature and it agrees
with those who believe in accidental Evolution of human race.

Besides, several studies have shown that HALF OF ALL BLACKS in the USA have some white blood, and do you remember the wildly popular TV show ROOTS from 1977? At the end of the show Alex Haley was told " the intelligent blacks are those with white blood" .

Negroes have never achieved in Africa the technology that all other civilizations achieved over the mill
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Brett Minor
It is difficult to review a book that was only written to perpetuate hatred. This book is racist to its core and that is despicable. I only read it because I often read the literature of the source material for radical views regardless of my own view. None of this is to be an endorsement. I hated everything this story was trying to teach.

However, the story had its compelling moments and scenes of tension. It was not torturing to read. Although, it was very apparent throughout that the author wa
...more
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Thomas Frederick Dixon Jr. was a Southern Baptist minister, playwright, lecturer, North Carolina state legislator, lawyer, and author.

(wikipedia)
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Other books in the series

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

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