Despite the fact that the Ku Klux Klan can be traced from the 1700s through the Civil War and is going strong in the present day, many people fail to realize the reach and influence of the group. Many scholars, for instance, perceive the KKK as a radical racist group composed primarily of ignorant, uneducated members, when it is actually much more. Some Klan groups are political, while others are simply social. Some 'meet and eat' just as any other mainstream civic or church group, but others are focused toward the use of well-planned violence. Not all Klan groups advocate an overthrow of the U.S. government, though some do.The author traces the historical development of the Klan, addressing its organization, membership, ideologies and philosophies. Avoiding the bias of previous works - written by either Klan apologists or detractors - the author chronicles the directions the group has taken during its long and diverse history. The study also details the secret oaths of allegiance, the Imperial Wizards, and the concept of Knighthood. The result is an accurate account of the Ku Klux Klan, a group that has continued to grow and evolve in response to changing times.
Chester L. Quarles is a professor of criminal justice and serves in the Department of Legal Studies at the University of Mississippi. While serving as a state criminal investigator, director of the State Crime Laboratory and as the state ballistics examiner, he participated in the investigations of almost all KKK activity in Mississippi in the mid to late 1960s, testifying in court during the trial of the first KKK member convicted since Reconstruction. Quarles has studied the Klan for over 40 years and, in conducting extensive hands-on research, has attended Klan meetings in Mississippi and Tennessee and has interviewed many of the more notable Klan figures in Mississippi. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi.