If I had not been familiar with the author of this book, then I might not have picked it up. After reading it, I can assure you that would have been my loss.
As the title indicates, this book is about the obvious: prejudice. But it is about so much more than that, including power, self-doubt, greed, salesmanship, vulnerability and belonging, just to name some of the weighty matters discussed here. These themes resonate far beyond the time and place of this historic conflict between Notre Dame students and the Ku Klux Klan.
The author is not heavy handed. Whether describing Father Matthew Walsh or Klansman D.C. Stephenson, he spends more time trying to understand his characters than judging them.
Thankfully, in my opinion, this does not read like a history text. It's clear that a lot of painstaking research was involved in the project. The author, however, provides just enough background for the context of the unfolding events without ever interfering with the story. He also makes it all relevant today by sharing his own personal experiences with us.
I was most impressed with the vivid imagery the author employed. I could easily visualize all the pageantry of a Klan picnic, complete with jugglers and marching bands. Similarly, I could almost feel the exact moment at which the youthful exuberance of the Notre Dame students turned to fear as the two groups clashed on the streets of South Bend.
Whether you are Catholic or Protestant - from Middle America or New York City - this book has something for you. It is an easy read. It transitions nicely between places, people and events, while always building nicely toward a frenetic ending. Reading this book is like watching a fuse burn all the way down until the inevitable explosion happens.
Don't make the mistake I almost made. Be sure to pick it up.