Quebec Studies

Book Reviews

Quebec Studies (2016), 62, (1), 177–189.


Book Reviews Edited by Amy J. Ransom Book Reviews History, Politics, and Cultural Studies RICHARD, MARK PAUL. Not a Catholic Nation: The Ku Klux Klan Confronts New England in the 1920s. Amherst, Mass.: University Massachusetts Press, 2015. Pp. 296. ISBN 978-1-62534-189-1. In his introduction Mark Richard refers to the numerous subfields of historical inquiry in which his book falls: the history of the Ku Klux Klan, the northeast borderlands, and religious and ethnic history, more specifically, the history of Catholicism. By working in this rich historical context, Richard’s book is the “multilayer(ed) look at American society in the 1920s” that he claims it to be (4–5). There is one field of historiography, however, that Richard forgets here: the history of hate. His study seeks to “explore how ordinary citizens acted in extreme ways to deal with a perceived internal enemy and how the Klan’s Catholic targets fought back in the twenties to preserve the constitutional freedoms of their country of adoption, thus helping to rid the Northeast of right-wing extremism” (6). Although perhaps a bit overstated (right-wing extremism persists in the Northeast), the study of extremism rooted in hate may be the book’s greatest contribution; its analysis goes beyond the immediacy and specificity of the 1920s Klan. Instead, Richard delves deeply into a diversity of sources to uncover what drove the Klan’s hatred of New England’s Catholics. Richard thus breaks from the historiography of the 1920s Klan, which focuses on the Klan’s “normative behavior.” While other historians see the Klan as one fraternal outlet attracting ordinary citizens, Richard argues that the Klan in New England was driven more by nativism and religious prejudice, functioning as a real “terrorist society” (203). By doing so, Richard digs out the hatred at Québec Studies, 62 doi:10.3828/qs.2016.22

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