Imprint:University of Georgia Press
Dimensions:228.6 x 152.4 mm | 360 gr
Page Count:272 pages
Illustrations:17 b&w photos
Selling Hate is a fascinating and powerful story about the power of a southern PR firm to further the Ku Klux Klan’s agenda. Dale W. Laackman’s uncovered never-before-published archival material, census records, and obscure books and letters to tell the story of an emerging communications industry—an industry filled with potential and fraught with peril.
The brilliant, amoral, and spectacularly bold Bessie Tyler and Edward Young Clarke—together, the Southern Publicity Association—met the fervent William Joseph Simmons (founder of the second KKK), saw an opportunity, and played on his many weaknesses. It was the volatile, precarious terrain of post–World War I America. Tyler and Clarke took Simmons's dying and broke KKK, with its two thousand to three thousand associates in Georgia and Alabama, and in a few short years swelled its membership to nearly five million. Chapters were established in every state of the union, and the Klan began influencing American political and social life. Between one-third and one-half of the eligible men in the country belonged to the organization.
Even to modern sensibilities, the extent of Tyler and Clarke’s scheme is shocking: the limitlessness of their audacity; the full-scale and ongoing con of Simmons; the size of the personal fortunes they earned, amassed, and stole in the process; and just how easily and expertly they exploited the particular fears and prejudices of every corner of America. You will recognize in this pair a very American sense of showmanship and an accepted, even celebrated, brash entrepreneurial hustle. And as their story winds down, you will recognize the tainted and ultimately ineffectual congressional hearings into the Klan's monumental growth.
I’ve read countless histories of the Ku Klux Klan . . . . Each has its strengths, but none accomplishes what this book does, which is to show that the Invisible Empire was in many ways the creation of modern public relations. - Steve Oney, author of A Man's World
Selling Hate is a splendid book on the so-called 'second era' Klan, the largest in the 150-year history of the organization. In a detailed account rich with fascinating characters, Dale W. Laackman shows how the group's exponential growth was driven almost entirely by an unlikely pair of public relations experts who turned out to be consummate swindlers. - Mark Potok, former senior fellow, Southern Poverty Law Center
Behind the cross burnings and hooded rallies, the Ku Klux Klan was fueled by shady marketers who sold hate across America. Selling Hate pulls back the curtain on the secret PR operation that built the Invisible Empire. - Bob Orr, CBS news justice correspondent and six-time Emmy winner
Dale W. Laackman delves into a dark chapter of American business history, where PR entrepreneurs and Klansmen forge an alliance with long-reaching effects. Filled with unexpected twists and characters you only wish were fictional, coupled with expert research, Laackman’s book skillfully tells an original and riveting tale. - Arnie Bernstein, author of Swastika Nation: Fritz Kuhn and the Rise and Fall of the German-American Bund
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