West was justly praised for his provocative study Race Matters (1993), an exploration of the nature of racial discourse in contemporary America. Those looking for the same kind of probing and original explorations of race in these transcripts of West's conversations about race with, among others, Maya Angelou, Harry Belafonte, and Charlayne Hunter-Gault, will probably be disappointed. West notes in his introduction that ""a specter of despair haunts late twentieth-century America . . . Wealth, inequality and class polarization are escalating."" To counter this, he argues, the times require those willing to ""speak our fallible truths, expose the vicious lies, and bear our imperfect witness."" The problem here is that, as is usually the case with conversations, the quality of testimony and thought varies greatly. Those familiar with, for instance, Maya Angelou's ideas will find little new here. There are moving moments, such as Belafonte's call for viewing struggle not as ""some harmful, negative thing"" but as an action of great dignity, power, and beauty, but too often the things said are unsurprising and without much impact. A mixed bag, best for West's typically salty and precise comments throughout.