An impressive dissertation on the differences between the ideal of American citizenship and the realities of civil rights. Karst (Law/UCLA) does not so much offer new arguments that American society discriminates against minorities as formulate familiar arguments into an erudite and yet accessible blend of philosophy, history, and legal commentary. He develops the idea that belonging to the American community is a promise of the Constitution that society fails to fulfill. In his discourse, he displays a strong grasp of American history and a compassionate understanding of the people he writes about--ethnic and cultural minorities, along with women struggling for empowerment. Specific cases discussed range from a 1976 incident of a black man brutalized by LA. police, to Brown v. Board of Education, to the Dred Scott case. The Dred Scott case, the 1866 Civil Rights Act, and the Fourteenth Amendment are reviewed in a powerful section wherein Karst delineates the Federal government's attempts to bring the constitutional mandates to a society operating a racial caste system. A complex and elegant study that offers a clear and humane portrait of the evolution of the idea and application of equality in the American system.