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Notre Dame Vs. The Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan [Hardcover]

Todd Tucker

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The riveting tale of the clash of two powerful institutions - Notre Dame and the Ku Klux Klan - that changed both institutions - and America - forever. In 1924, students of the University of Notre Dame and members of the Ku Klux Klan faced off in a violent confrontation in south bend, Indiana. This shocking and true hidden chapter in Catholic and American history is recounted in Notre Dame vs. The Klan, the story of two uniquely American institutions that rose to power amidst rampant anti-Catholicism and collided during a riotous weekend. In defeating the Klan, Notre Dame helped Catholics overcome widespread prejudice and take their place as accepted members of mainstream America. Told from the perspectives of the then-president of Notre Dame, the former Grand Dragon of the KKK, and a Notre Dame student who participated in the riot, the book details the rise of Notre Dame - from its humble roots in a small village in France to its reputation as an academic leader and football power - and the parallel trajectory of the KKK in Indiana.

This fascinating story, pieced together from firsthand accounts and newspaper reports, is and important addition to the rich legacy of the storied institution of Notre Dame and the cultural history of American Catholics.

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IN JUNE OF 1893,THE HOLY CROSS BROTHERS WHO RAN St. Columbkille's School in Chicago lined their boys up and marched them by a tired-looking priest. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars About more than prejudice 17 Aug 2004
By D. Bennett - Published on Amazon.com
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.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A story worth telling 1 Oct 2004
By Jon Hunt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Todd Tucker's new book, "Notre Dame vs. The Klan" is one of those efforts that reports an incident in American history and helps to broaden its larger scope in the process. In doing so, the author has enlightened his readers as to what the climate might have been like in Indiana in 1924.

Tucker gives a decent overview of the Klan's history and gives a more fascinating look at the emerging prominence of Notre Dame. This book would be an ideal primer for Notre Dame students (one of my former students plays on the current Notre Dame football squad) and to that end, I think this book has merit. However, linking the Notre Dame incident and the Klan's demise is more than a bit of a stretch. Historical novels tend to see things in a more readable light but even given the author's admission of creating a narrative of his own, I commend his efforts.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Legendary Event in the History of the Fighting Irish 12 Sep 2005
By Alfred Myers - Published on Amazon.com
I am a Notre Dame graduate(class of 1959)and had heard of this clash between the ND student body and KKK, but I knew only the barest details. Therefore, this book was most welcome. It not only covers the 1924 confrontation in almost minute-by-minute detail but serves as a fascinating informal history of both the KKK, especially its post-"Birth of a Nation" spread in the North, and of the University itself from its 1842 founding date. The book should therefore be fascinating to any ND alum, including those of the subway variety, and would probably be of interest to a general readership was well.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who Knew? 6 May 2005
By Reader 11 - Published on Amazon.com
Very interesting history of both Notre Dame and the Klan in Indiana, particularly relevant to anyone with an interest in either Notre Dane or the KKK. (We all might have guessed that a prominent member of Indiana society was a Klansman, but who knew that he kidnapped a girl and bit her to death?) Tucker's book is a little less sensational than that previous sentence implies, but this is a nonfiction book that reads with a lot of drama and excitement.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy read, great story 6 Jun 2006
By M. Wilkinson - Published on Amazon.com
Todd Tucker exploits one of the least known storys of the University of Notre Dame in a great way. He doesn't keep it boring, which i have found most other history books to be. It is a very easy read, but not in a bad way at all. I really enjoyed how he also brought in the history of Notre Dame, which i don't think i really would have known otherwise. Also how he talked about the beloved football team. I couldn't asked for anything less.
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