THE RACE WAR by Ronald Segal


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Reducing life to ultimate alternatives seems to be the signal sign of the 20th century, and the threat of war between the races, specifically white and non-white, hangs with increasing heaviness across the world today. Indeed, if it was chic in the Fifties to talk of the rich and poor nations, or of communist or capitalist ideologies, the contending forces of the absurdist Sixties appear to be grouping in the more primitive positions of opposing color blocs. Certainly that is the import of Ronald Segal's provocative, if somewhat patchy and repetitive, study of what used to be called the awakening giants (Asia, Africa, South America) and their dethroned Western masters. A liberal and exiled South African, Segal is a young historian who is both an activist and a scholar. His thesis is packed with wide-ranging and often first-hand references, as well as able summaries of the colored world's past civilizations, the distressing record of European and American exploitation, and the growing political entrenchment along racial lines, whether vis a vis Russia and China or negroes and whites in America. The book suffers, however, from a tendency toward unexceptional exhortations (the West must help, not contain, revolutions, etc.) without ever deeply grappling with the complex matters of technological change, international power structures, Fanon-type resentment, leftist and rightist demagoguery, and so forth. Nevertheless, broad in scope, markedly informative in many incidentals, the book has an undeniable urgency and importance.

Publisher: Viking