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ONE NATION by Wallace Stegner


edited by Wallace Stegner

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 1945
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

This is a Life on America prize winner, which may give it one boost over the hurdle that it is "another book about our minority problem". It is more, much more, than just another picture book, though it may reach that picture book market for the quality and human interest in the very fine photographs that have been brought together for the purpose of making this book. The pictures — and the text — are the result of more than a year's survey of the racial and religious stresses in wartime (and, we must acknowledge, in peacetime, too). The approach is astonishingly objective — Stegner, recognizes where the faults lie, and not always on the side of the accused. His plea is not for stereotyped equality, but for equal opportunity. He condemns the violation of such rights. He indicates, without undue emphasis, the economic, social, religious reasons behind discrimination. He shows — in few but dramatic words — a clear relationship — the difference one of degree — to Nazi practices in some things that happen in these United States. He traces the patterns of exclusions — segregation school systems, social and economic discrimination. He indicates signs of hope — of progress. He defines what is meant by the term prejudice — what involved therein. And — through photographs and brief introductory text before each group of pictures — he presents our minorities, — the Pacific races, the Mexicans and Spanish-Americans, the Indians, the Negroes, the Catholics, the Jews. He treads on lots of toes — but — in the brevity of the book — may reach many hearts.