Author of Southern Stories



Latest Events and News Items.....


The Next Book:  The Second Coming of the Invisible Empire
Release Date Confirmed!
Mercer University Press has set March 2016 the release date for The Second Coming of the Invisible Empire.  From my perspective, everything is done, including the editing, selecting the photos and illustrations, etc.  All that remains is a review of the galleys, and making an index as the last thing.  
The book turned out to be a bit longer than 100,000 words, with nearly 700 footnotes, and many, many references.  While that may be a bit overwhelming, recall that this is a new and definitive history of the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s, one of the more bizarre and dangerous (if I can use that word) episodes in American history.  

Here is the description of the book from the Mercer University Press Spring 2016 Catalogue:  

Fifty years after the end of the Civil War, William Joseph Simmons, a failed Methodist minister, formed a fraternal order that he called The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.  Organized primarily a money-making scheme, it shared little but its name with the Ku Klux Klan of the Reconstruction Era.  With its avowed creed of One Hundred Percent Americanism, support of Protestant Christian values, white supremacy, and the rejection of all things foreign, this new Klan became, for a brief period of time in the mid-1920s, one of America’s most powerful social and political organizations.  Shamelessly adopting the symbols of the hooded robe and burning cross from the movie, The Birth of the Nation, and exploiting the sense that America was headed in the wrong direction, the order spread rapidly to every state in the nation. While often using intimidation and violence against its foes, the Klan was responsible for the election of supportive politicians at all levels of government. Following a disastrous attempt to influence the presidential election of 1924, and with increasing public awareness of the Klan’s corrupt and violent nature, the order faltered, becoming a mere wisp of its former self by 1930. This original and meticulously researched history of America's second Ku Klux Klan presents many new and fascinating insights into this unique and important episode in American History.

And The Book After That:  What I Am Writing Now....

With The Second Coming of the Invisible Empire completed, I am working on my eighth book, the one to follow.  The tentative title is The Strange Fate of the Confederate Constitution, and Other Stories from Georgia's Historical Past.  It's  long title I know, but it is descriptive of the book's content.  For some years I have written shorter magazine pieces on a wide variety of topics, many of involving Georgia's history.  It was suggested that a collection of my works might be of interest, and after some thought I agreed that it would be.   I find history fascinating, and there are many events, topics, happenings, etc.  that are important and often little-known, but don't warrent an entire book.  So, dividing them into historical periods, and writing a few new short pieces to fill in the gaps, I hope to complete this manuscript by mid-2016.  It should appeal to those interested in Southern and/or Georgia history, and is designed to be a good resource as supplemental reading in university and high school AP history courses.  

A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff

I think if you ask any author about his or her book, they'll tell you it's great.  But, hey, they wrote it!  So here is one of many reviews from Goodreads.  If you would like to see more, check out the reviews on amazon.com.

Author William Rawlings’ A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff is a superb little book of Georgia history, recounting (as the book jacket succinctly states) the rise and fall of Georgia’s rural population through the story of Sandersville cotton farmer, financier, businessmen and later convicted killer, Charles Graves Rawlings. Much like the farm barons of the bygone 1900s and 1920s, Rawlings tills new ground in this book, closely examining how the South’s reliance (bordering on blind devotion) to King Cotton ultimately lead to an unsustainable economy that not only bankrupt both individuals and communities, but ultimately lead to the dissolution of many small Georgia towns and a diaspora of many southern residents northward.

One might expect any book addressing post-Civil War southern economics and population migration to be inherently dry and dusty, but Rawlings deftly avoids pedantry, focusing his attention instead on the life and times of those who lived during these troubled times – in particular the life of the author’s ancestor, Charles Graves Rawlings, a rags to riches millionaire who lived his twilight years impoverished and imprisoned for purportedly engineering the killing of his cousin, Gus Tarbutton. Replete with stories, folklore and anecdotes, Rawlings paints a vivid picture of the life, times, people and places. Every page of A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff is interesting and the broad canvas of Rawlings’ book is a bit like peering through the window of time machine into the faces, issues and politics of the past.

It is the seamless fusion between intensely interesting tales of individuals alongside the broader background of historical trends and changes that makes A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff so immensely satisfying. Rawlings is able to sift through (and explain) complex economic and historical data with ease – never have I been more interested in the growing, cultivation and economy of cotton – but more importantly he is also able to show how these broader issues are relevant -- specifically to the lives of the individuals he chronicles. For example, Rawlings bluntly portrays the terrible impacts of Southern racism, but wisely avoids the trap of blaming all the South’s ills on that single evil. Likewise, he addresses the rise and impact of the Ku Klux Klan – not just in the context of its abhorrent racism – but as a political movement whose terrorism targeted not just African-Americans, Jews and Catholics, but anyone (whites included) whose moral purity was questioned by Klansmen. Author Rawlings doesn’t shy away from bluntly painting the picture of the Klan’s brutality – so unflinchingly that it becomes very easy to understand, even modern times, the fear and intimidation the hooded men must have instilled even among some of the bravest and most independent local citizens.

A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff is indeed a book about history – but it’s clear that Rawlings’ is no stodgy historian; instead his writing is that of a fan of history whose enthusiasm, crisp narration, and penchant for wonderful stories captures both the reader’s interest and the essence of the age. In the preface, Rawlings calls this book “an interesting tale, nothing more or less” – and like the best classic tales, this is a story that resonates with ageless meaning.

Read the First Chapter of A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff

For the many folks from whom I've recieved inquiries as to when the book will be available, here is a copy of the first chapter to whet your appetite.  To read it, click HERE.

Event Schedule
Upcoming events for the next few months are
listed below.  If you or your book or social club
are looking for a speaker, please contact me.

10/16/15  11:00 AM
"The Prologue with Doug Dahlgren"
Radio Interview
(Podcast to be posted on website)

2/16/2016 2:00 PM
Speaking Engagement
"The Second Coming of the
  Invisible Empire"
Reinhardt University
Waleska, Georgia

3/25/2016 Details TBA
Speaking Engagement
Spartanburg County Historical Assn.
Spartanburg, South Carolina

5/5/16 7:00 PM
Speaking Engagement
Lincoln County Historical Society
Lincolnton, Georgai

6/30/16 2:00-4:00 PM
Speaking Engagement
"Mysteries and Mummies"
Center for Life Enrichment
Highlands, North Carolina 
(Details TBA)

9/1/16 2:00-4:00 PM
Speaking Engagement
"The Second Coming of the Invisible Empire"
Center for Life Enrichment
Highlands, North Carolina
(Details TBA)

News and Notes

There is always something happening.  Here are the latest odds and ends that may be of interest to you:

New Magazine Article on the way:  The interesting thing about writing non-fiction, especially historical non-fiction, is that it is interesting!  By that, I mean that as you write on one topic, you frequently come across others that are just as fascinating.  The problem is  that one simply doesn't have time to drop what you are doing and flit off to write on the other topic.  But, such discoveries make for great magazine articles.  Right now I'm working on a great little bit of Georgia history, the "reign of terror" of the Ku Klux Klan in Macon in the early 1920s.   While most folks associate the name of the Klan with acts of racist violence  (not to mention their anti-Semiticism, anti-Catholic, and anti-immigrant rants), in Macon during the heady early days of the revived order, most of their self-rightous violence was visited upon white, native-born, Anglo-Saxon Protestants.  There were kidnappings and floggings, the most high-profile of which involved doctors, businessmen and others accused of violations of some unwritten moral codes.  The "outrages," which occured over a period of two years, led to arrests and a dramatic series of trials in late 1923.  Again, in sharp contrast to the popular perception of the Klan, these events involved men of prominence.   The story became a national one, with heavy national coverage in such newspapers as the New York Times.   I hope to have the article finished and in print by later this year.