A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan's Plot to Take Over America, and the Woman Who Stopped Them

Timothy Egan
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About This Book

He was a grifter of the first degree, a smooth-talking con artist, a Machiavellian manipulator. He was also a sexual predator, luring women with his aura of fame and power. As grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, D. C. Stephenson’s ambitions did not stop with the organization he shepherded from its Southern roots to dominance in the Midwest. Bullying and buying the loyalty of businessmen, judges, and politicians was not enough for Stephenson. The White House was his ultimate goal, and he might have achieved it were it not for the rape, kidnapping, and subsequent murder charges in the death of Madge Oberholtzer, a well-respected young Indianapolis woman under his employ in the Indiana government. The brutality of her injuries drove Madge to attempt suicide. Thanks to a courageous prosecutor, her subsequent death was linked directly back to Stephenson. His coercive leadership of the 1920s Klan resulted in thousands of new members equally committed to the organization’s extreme policies of xenophobia, racism, antisemitism, and misogyny. With a probing vibrancy, Egan, winner of the Carnegie Medal, Pulitzer Prize, and National Book Award, unfurls this powerful tale of a psychopathic zealot who came dangerously close to reshaping America in his warped image. This riveting exposé of a sordid chapter in U.S. history has frightening parallels to present conflicts.


February 10, 2023