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Racism: A Short History

George M. Fredrickson Albert Camarillo

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Princeton University Press
01 September 2015
Society & Social Sciences; Ethnic minorities & multicultural studies
Are antisemitism and white supremacy manifestations of a general phenomenon? Why didn't racism appear in Europe before the fourteenth century, and why did it flourish as never before in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries? Why did the twentieth century see institutionalized racism in its most extreme forms? Why are egalitarian societies particularly susceptible to virulent racism? What do apartheid South Africa, Nazi Germany, and the American South under Jim Crow have in common? How did the Holocaust advance civil rights in the United States? With a rare blend of learning, economy, and cutting insight, George Fredrickson surveys the history of Western racism from its emergence in the late Middle Ages to the present. Beginning with the medieval antisemitism that put Jews beyond the pale of humanity, he traces the spread of racist thinking in the wake of European expansionism and the beginnings of the African slave trade. And he examines how the Enlightenment and nineteenth-century romantic nationalism created a new intellectual context for debates over slavery and Jewish emancipation. Fredrickson then makes the first sustained comparison between the color-coded racism of nineteenth-century America and the antisemitic racism that appeared in Germany around the same time. He finds similarity enough to justify the common label but also major differences in the nature and functions of the stereotypes invoked. The book concludes with a provocative account of the rise and decline of the twentieth century's overtly racist regimes--the Jim Crow South, Nazi Germany, and apartheid South Africa--in the context of world historical developments. This illuminating work is the first to treat racism across such a sweep of history and geography. It is distinguished not only by its original comparison of modern racism's two most significant varieties--white supremacy and antisemitism--but also by its eminent readability.
By:   George M. Fredrickson
Foreword by:   Albert Camarillo
Imprint:   Princeton University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Edition:   Revised edition
Dimensions:   Height: 216mm,  Width: 140mm,  Spine: 18mm
Weight:   170g
ISBN:   9780691167053
ISBN 10:   0691167052
Series:   Princeton Classics
Pages:   232
Publication Date:   01 September 2015
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active
FOREWORD TO THE PRINCETON CLASSICS EDITION ix ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xvii INTRODUCTION 1 ONE Religion and the Invention of Racism 15 TWO The Rise of Modern Racism(s): White Supremacy and Antisemitism in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries 49 THREE Climax and Retreat: Racism in the Twentieth Century 97 EPILOGUE Racism at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century 139 APPENDIX The Concept of Racism in Historical Discourse 151 NOTES 171 INDEX 193

George M. Fredrickson (1934-2008) was the Edgar E. Robinson Professor of U.S. History at Stanford University. His many books include Diverse Nations, Black Liberation, and White Supremacy. Albert M. Camarillo is the Leon Sloss Jr. Memorial Professor of American History at Stanford University.

Reviews for Racism: A Short History

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2003 In Racism: A Short History, written in ... [Fredrickson's] characteristically crisp, clear prose, he draws both on a wide range of recent work by others and on nearly half a century of his own writings on immigration, race and nationalism, in the United States and elsewhere, to provide us with a masterly--though not uncontroversial--synthesis... The book is worth reading just for its pathbreaking attempt to tell the stories of anti-Semitism and white supremacy together, while insisting both on their inter-connections and their differences. --Kwame Anthony Appiah, The New York Times Book Review Fredrickson deftly combines intellectual with social and political history to explain the emergence of racism and its recent decline. Learned and elegant. --William H. McNeill, The New York Review of Books Fredrickson [stands] out from a number of distinguished collegues [because of] his continuing urge to widen the comparative framework he uses to try to understand why these relations have developed as they did. Racism: A Short History is his most drastic venture to date--a brisk positioning of Southern racial domination within world history as a whole. --John Dunn, Times Literary Supplement An erudite comparison of racism and anti-Semitism throughout Western history... Fredrickson offers a scholarly but compelling and accessible narrative. --Publishers Weekly Fredrickson's book should be celebrated. The chief reason is the text itself. One of only a handful of attempts to cover Western attitudes towards race comprehensively, Fredrickson's Racism is by far the most concise and lucid. It is also the most balanced... [W]hat ultimately makes Fredrickson's book so valuable is its original vision of the major racisms--its view of them as belonging to a coherent historical narrative... Reviewers often apply the term 'path-breaking' to works that simply trim back a few errant branches. But Fredrickson's book really is path-breaking. --Paul Reitter, The Nation In this incisive and thoughtful essay on the nature and historical trajectory of racism in the modern world, Fredrickson's magisterial command of his subject is on display as he provides a concise overview of racism's rise, climax, and retreat. --Choice Racism, in short, comes with a history, and it is to scrutinize racism's history and reasoning that Fredrickson decided to write this brisk, intense, incisive probe of the concept and its implications. The result is the best, most erudite introduction to racism available. --Carlin Romano, Philadelphia Inquirer Racism: A Short History is a tour de force within this genre. Richly footnoted and elegantly written, the book is a model of clarity and sophisticated analysis. --Milton Shain, Kleio


  • Commended for Choice Magazine Outstanding Reference/Academic Book Award 2003.
  • Short-listed for Choice Magazine Outstanding Reference/Academic Book Award 2003
  • Short-listed for Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles 2003 (United States)
  • Shortlisted for Choice Magazine Outstanding Reference/Academic Book Award 2003.

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