Race: The History of an Idea in America (Race and American Culture)
When Thomas Gossett's Race: The History of an Idea in America appeared in 1963, it explored the impact of race theory on American letters in a way that anticipated the investigation of race and culture being conducted today. Bold, rigorous, and broad in scope, Gossett's book quickly established itself as a critical resource to younger scholars seeking a candid, theoretically sophisticated treatment of race in American cultural history.
Here, reprinted without change, is Gossett's classic study, making available to a new generation of scholars a lucid, accessibly written volume that ranges from colonial race theory and its European antecedents, through eighteenth- and nineteenth- century race pseudoscience, to the racialist dimension of American thought and literature emerging against backgrounds such as Anglo- Saxonism, westward expansion, Social Darwinism, xenophobia, World War I, and modern racial theory.
Featuring a new afterword by the author, an introduction by series editors Shelley Fisher Fishkin and Arnold Rampersad, and a bibliographic essay by Maghan Keita, this indispensable book, whose first edition helped change the way scholars discussed race, will richly reward scholars of American Studies, American Literature, and African-American Studies.
Well-documented account of racism's development
By Lawrence J. Winkler "Larry W" - June 13, 1999
I read the 1st edition of this book many years ago (in the 60s). It well describes the intellectual justifications for racism. It has a wonderful bibliography which allows the reader to find the original material. I have not re-read the book in years, but profoundly recall the author's discussion of how the intellectuals of the time produced literature to justify the US's continue subjagation of non-whites in American and outside--Kipling's "White Man's Burden" being one example. Highly recommended.
A seminal analysis of racism
By John C. Landon "nemonemini" - January 24, 2005
This reprint of a classic study of racism is one of the most important on the subject in the last fifty years, and significant for being the source of much later scholarly work. The place of racial pseudo-science in American history, indeed, American scholarship was once alarmingly strong, and the picture since the changes wrought in the sixties onwards tend to make one forget the insidious extent of the racist confusions. The book is quite comprehensive, and covers the issue of racism from the early modern onward, from the time of Las Casas and the Puritans to the time of Nazism, with interesting material on slavery, the treatment of the Indian, Reconstruction and afterward, Social Darwism, race in literature, and much more. As a teacher of English rather than a specialist the tone is precise yet informal, yet highly readable, and as the authors of the Forward to the new edition note, the text was an inspiration to many scholars of the time of the first printing.
Racism Firmly Established as an 18th Century Western Invention
By Herbert L Calhoun "paulocal" - July 12, 2011
Although written in the 1960s, this easy to read yet very scholarly and historical treatment of an issue that still bedevils America is an excellent resource. It relies on both primary and secondary sources and contains a robust bibliography on the issue of race.
The author's approach is to give a sweeping historical summary of the issue of race even before it was recognized and defined as a separate concept. This pre-history of race (even before it was invented) of course is invaluable but still is the weakest part of the book if only because here most of what he has to say about ancient times and the idea of race during that period is necessarily "soft" and speculative, and probably to a great extent also wrong. Despite this, I like his approach, which is to understand "what people were thinking about race" as the racial theories we have come to rely on were being invented. For seventeen chapters he follows this approach and throughout the book his research usually... read more
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