THE ARROGANCE OF RACE: Historical Perspectives on Slavery, Racism, and Social Inequality by George M. Fredrickson

THE ARROGANCE OF RACE: Historical Perspectives on Slavery, Racism, and Social Inequality

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A selection of 17 essays written over a 20-year period by Fredickson (History/Stanford), author of The Inner Civil War (1965), The Black Image in the White Mind (1971), and White Supremacy (1981). Fredrickson has moved over the years to embrace an interactive blend of two major historical currents of thinking about race-consciousness: the traditional, which posits racial prejudice as a primordial attitude ensconced in the human psyche; and the neo-Marxist view that subordinates race to class. The author finds truth in the interplay of these two distinct forms of social stratification. His essays are divided into three sections. The first concerns the intellectual history of the race question, both ante- and post-bellum; the second deals with the historiography of the 19th-century South--which concludes by criticizing Joel Williamson's The Crucible of Race (1984) for overemphasizing psychocultural tensions as an explanation for the rise and decline of racial extremism, and for paying too little attention to social structure and politics; and the third part consists of five essays on slavery and white supremacy. The most interesting of these five compares white responses to black freedom in the American South, Jamaica, and South Africa. In general, white responses have reflected whether whites viewed the emancipation as coming from a legitimate authority, as in the case of the British colonies, or as being imposed arbitrarily, as Southern whites saw it. Prime Fredrickson, a good sampling of the life's work of one of our most gifted historians.

Pub Date: May 15th, 1988
Publisher: Wesleyan Univ. Press