Dark Soul of the South


Dark Soul of the South

The Life and Crimes of Racist Killer Joseph Paul Franklin

Mel Ayton

344 pages


May 2011


$34.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

September 2011


$34.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Believing himself to be on a "God-given mission," Joseph Paul Franklin was the only racially motivated serial killer ever pursued by the Justice Department. Mel Ayton examines his murderous life, from his poverty-stricken youth in a backward Alabama suburb to his indoctrination by militant Nazis and southern racists to his eventual capture by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Ayton’s exhaustive report uncovers the truth behind Franklin’s three-year undertaking to murder Jews and African Americans.

White supremacist Franklin was, by his own admission, an outlaw, a racist, and weird. As a neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klansman, he violently enforced his views by embarking on a "lone hunter" mission to kill. He saw African Americans and Jews as subhuman and knew no moral obstacle to racial violence, invoking the Bible to support his criminal acts. As Franklin’s 1977–80 killing spree was contemporaneous with other racially charged incidents that other Klansmen and neo-Nazis wrought throughout the United States, his story also exposes how hate organizations have made killers out of disaffected and bitter young men.

In this first full-length book about Franklin, Ayton reveals a shocking and unsavory side of American society.

Author Bio

Mel Ayton is the author of numerous books, including Plotting to Kill the President: Assassination Attempts from Washington to Hoover (Potomac Books, 2017) and Hunting the President: Threats, Plots, and Assassination Attempts—From FDR to Obama. He has been a history consultant for the BBC, the National Geographic Channel, and the Discovery Channel.


"In this chilling but important book, Mel Ayton examines the case of a man who—despite being a murderer, would-be assassin of public figures, and white supremacist—remains a hero to many Americans, and that’s probably the most shocking fact of all."—Paul Donnelley, author of 501 Most Notorious Crimes and Assassins and Assassinations in World History

"Mel Ayton, who has written extensively on political assassinations in the United States, now has ventured where no other writer has. With his latest book, Dark Soul of the South, he delves into the world of a racial serial killer and attempted assassin of Hustler magazine’s Larry Flynt and civil rights leader Vernon Jordan. While many believe that the ugly precepts of racism expired with the successes of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, Ayton’s in-depth study of the activities of those such as Franklin is a reminder that the demise of racism was, and still is, somewhat premature.”—Larry A. Sneed, author of No More Silence

"With his latest well-written book, about the racist killer John Paul Franklin—along with his other works, particularly his important book about the 1968 murder of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy—Mel Ayton has staked his claim as one of the finest true-crime writers in the business. His portrayal of right-wing fanatic Franklin is both chilling and enlightening, as it chronicles the murderer’s past crimes while seeming to give warning about other individuals, also motivated by their sick views of American politics, who might follow in his wake. Ayton’s disciplined attention to detail in his story is investigative journalism at its very best."—Dan E. Moldea, author of The Hoffa Wars

"Mel Ayton's books on the Kennedy and King assassinations exhibited a great clarity of mind and scrupulous regard for the facts. He now brings these all-too-rare tools to a grim story about the underside of American society."—Max Holland, author of The Kennedy Assassination Tapes

Also of Interest