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128 The Canadian Historical Review Finally, to demonstrate that King cared less and less about the prairies as other areas became politically and economically more important, this book needed to address the place of those other regions. Neither Mitch Hepburn nor George Drew would have agreed that the attentions ofthe King Liberals were shifting to Ontario in the Depression, war, and postwar periods. Their view ofevents, obviously, must remain somewhat suspect, but ifthe relationship between Mackenzie King and the prairie west is to be truly understood, the benefits or windfalls that ended up elsewhere must be at least cursorily explored. This book is, in many ways, important. The research is thorough, the argument thought provoking, and the goals ambitious. In providing a less-than-complete analysis ofKing's personal thinking and a somewhat convoluted exploration ofhis multiplicity ofrelationships with the prairie west, it demonstrates, once again, what an enigmatic politician Mackenzie King remains for historians. P.E. BRYDEN Mount Allison University The Ku Klux Klan in Central Alberta. WILLIAM PETER BAERGEN. Red Deer: Central Alberta Historical Society 2000. Pp. 359, illus. $24.95 The Ku Klux Klan in Central Alberta, written by a well-known public school educator and human rights commissioner in the province, purports to reveal the history of the Klan and, specifically, the connections between the Loyal Orange Order and the rise and demise of the Klan in Alberta. Based predominantly on secondary sources, with several primary-source documents included as appendices, The Ku Klux Klan in Central Alberta received front-page billing in local newspapers on its release in the spring of 2000. Although intended as an expose of the roots of 'Klannism' in a province known for its conservatism and rightwing tendencies, The Ku Klux Klan in Central Alberta suffers from an intellectual myopia that destroys any possibility of its contributing to existing scholarship. Baergen appears, for the most part, completely ignorant ofthe recent historiography on the Ku Klux Klan, instead making indiscriminate connections between the American Ku Klux Klan and the development of the Klan in Alberta. With some small exceptions, he omits all the recent works on the Klan, including Leonard Moore's path-breaking quantitative analysis of Indiana Klan membership in the 1920s. Moore reveals that upstanding, middle-class businessmen made up the bulk of these 'Citizen Klansmen' and that the 1920s Klan, despite its racism and appeals to 100 per cent Americanism, was not ofthe same genre as the Reviews 129 vigilante, murderous, Reconstruction-era Klan. In a separate article Moore reviews the historiography of the Klan in the United States and astutely concludes that both older and recent works on the Klan often make no distinction between different strains of the organization, convinced only in the righteousness of equating Klan membership with racist lynch mobs. Moore argues compellingly for a more nuanced view, which, not surprisingly, has subjected him to his own set ofcritics. Such cognizance of the complicated historiography of the Klan has clearly eluded Baergen, and any such nuances are markedly absent in this book. More damning is that Baergen does not follow basic rules of historical evidence when crafting his argument about the Alberta Klan. He makes gross, unsubstantiated generalizations about various events in Canadian history - from the Conquest of1760, to the Riel Rebellion, to the Manitoba Schools Question, to the Laurier-Greenway Compromise, to the Autonomy Bills Controversy, to western provincial control over natural resources - to prove how a 'Klan mentality' flourished among the Alberta populace. Unfortunately, his entire argument hinges on the development and existence ofthis Alberta 'mentality,' a phenomenon he never proves but consistently surmises. Most historians appreciate the difference between the actions of an organization's leaders and the beliefs and perceptions ofits membership and supporters. The former can be observed; the latter merely inferred. Yet the degree of inference, supposition, and outright speculation in which Baergen engages regarding the influence and support ofAlberta Klan leaders will strain the credulity of even the least discriminating reader. The bulk ofthis book discusses the actions of a few bizarre individuals , but the conclusions Baergen draws paint all Albertans as covert or outright bigots. Perhaps more serious is the probability that this book will fail to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1093
Print ISSN
0008-3755
Pages
pp. 128-130
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-06
Open Access
No
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