A force of nature and her flim-flam man meet their mark. A true believer.
The brilliant, amoral, and spectacularly bold Bessie Tyler and Edward Young Clarketogether, the Southern Publicity Associationmet the fervent William Joseph Simmons, saw an opportunity, and played on his many weaknesses.
It was the volatile, precarious terrain of PostWorld War I America. Tyler and Clarke took Simmons's dying and broke KKK, with its 2,0003,000 members in Georgia and Alabama, and in a few short years increased 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 their 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, 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, the tainted and ultimately ineffectual Congressional hearings into the Klan's monumental growth that fizzle into nowhere? They will also seem familiar.
"For the Kingdom and the Power: The Big Money Swindle That Spread Hate Across America" tells a fascinating, powerful, and previously untold story based on Dale Laackman's original research, archival material never before published, Census records, and obscure books and letters. It's the story of an emerging communications industry, an industry filled with potential and fraught with peril.
Public Relations, marketing, advertising, and journalism collide on a grand, national stage.
America would never be the same.