New and popular titles at Juniata County Library

BOOK REPORT

With so many good books being released all the time, it can be hard to determine what to check out next. Every week, I offer a run-down of significant releases available here at the library.

Visit our online card catalog at juniata.sparkpa.org to search today or call 717-436-6378 to have a helpful library staff member assist you.

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“Black Klansman” by Ron Stallworth

I went and saw the movie recently and was really impressed by the complex story. I went and picked up the book and enjoyed it even more! Before you start, know that this book isn’t the most dramatic crime/cop book. There is not a grand final arrest or trial. The story makes up for that with an unexpectedly fun and humorous story.

Based in the late 1960’s, this book covers an undercover operation to gather information about the current activities of the local Klan chapter as well as Black Panther meetings. Both groups seem ready to openly clash and bring forth violence in an otherwise quiet, leafy neighborhood of Colorado Springs. However, it also informs us about the evolving back-story influencing the media’s portrayal of the Klan. The public’s social values have radically changed in the latest decades and, therefore, what the Klan says it represents has changed. We now have the New Klan (non-violent), not the Old Klan (lynching’s, cross-burnings). The book relates a local chapter’s recruiting efforts: they would bring in David Duke for speeches and sponsor numerous rallies.

The Colorado Springs Police Department starts an undercover operation and is led by two young police officers, one black (the author) and one Jewish (Flip Zimmerman). Stallworth begins to infiltrate both the local Klan and Black Panther chapters, first by making friendly phone calls to Klan leadership and second by attending rallies pretending to be for radical liberation of African Americans. We have to remember that during this time period, many groups thrived on building membership rolls, distributing newsletters, meeting at homes, and communicating by rotary phone. The wild part of this scheme is that while Stallworth would initiate and facilitate meetings with the Klan by phone, Zimmerman would (for obvious reasons) go to the meetings and pretend to be Stallworth. As you can imagine, these ruses are drawn out to extreme lengths until they reach their breaking points.

This case was about intelligence gathering and crime prevention, and succeeded beyond expectations. Stallworth’s level-headedness and emotional control made him perfect for undercover work. The situations Stallworth and Zimmerman put themselves in are simultaneously stone serious and hilarious. There are few books out that accomplish both and are based on true events. You can find this book in the New Adult Nonfiction section.

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Bookshots…Here are some quick recommendations and star ratings I give them.

¯ Everything She Didn’t Say by Kirkpatrick, Jane (5 stars)

¯ Field of Bones: A Brady Novel by Jance, JA (4 stars)

¯ All we ever wanted by Giffin, Emily (3 stars)

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Vince Giordano has been the director of the Juniata County Library since 2015.

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