by Tamar Jacoby ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 1, 1998
An almost epic, sure-to-be-controversial, attack on the racial politics of the last 30 years. It's easy to pigeonhole Jacoby, a former New York Times editor and Newsweekwriter who now contributes to such publications as Commentary and the New Republic, and is an adjunct fellow of the neoconservative Manhattan Institute. Indeed, she builds her book around three intensive case studies to attack affirmative action (Atlanta in the 1980s and '90s), the failures of ""liberal social engineering"" (New York City in the 1960s and '70s), and black identity politics (Detroit in the 1970s and '80s). And though she claims sympathy for the difficult situations in which they found themselves, it is clear how little regard she has for the jobs done by mayors John Lindsay of New York, Coleman Young of Detroit, and Maynard Jackson and Andrew Young of Atlanta. But if Jacoby's political agenda is clear, so too is her continued and passionate commitment to integration. She's also a fine writer who builds her case well. Jacoby argues that the nation had no idea what to do next once legal barriers to integration were removed. Now, after 30 years of bumbling, many Americans are no longer sure what is meant by integration or even whether it is a desirable goal. Calling affirmative action ""a Band-Aid on the cancer of black underdevelopment,"" Jacoby makes the expected neoconservative arguments for school vouchers and incentives to the private sector to improve inner-city life and opportunities. However, she also writes that ""the free market alone cannot make the inner city safe for children or business,"" and that ""America cannot wash its hands of these problems."" Jacoby will be attacked. If she is also debated--if her arguments do not get lost, as has so much else on this topic, she writes, in a ""sea of shouting""--then her book may make a significant contribution to reviving America's commitment to integration.
Pub Date: June 1, 1998
Page Count: 624
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1998
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