Synopses & Reviews
Race. You know it at a glance: he's black; she's white. They're Asian; we're Latino. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; Racism. I'm better; she's worse. Those people do those kinds of things. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; We all know it's wrong to make these judgments, but they come faster than thought. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; Why? Where did those feelings come from? Why are they so powerful? Why have millions been enslaved, murdered, denied their rights because of the color of their skin, the shape of their eyes? andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; Acclaimed young-adult historian Marc Aronson tackles these and other questions in this astounding book, which traces the history of racial prejudice in Western culture back to ancient Sumer and beyond. He shows us Greeks dividing the world into civilized and barbarian, medieval men writing about the traits of monstrous men, until, finally, Enlightenment scientists scrap all those mythologies and come up with a new one: charts spelling out the traits of human races. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; Aronson's journey of discovery yields many surprising discoveries. For instance, throughout most of human history, slavery had nothing to do with race. In fact, the idea of race itself did not exist in the West before the 1600s. But once the idea was established and backed up by "scientific" theory, its influence grew with devastating consequences, from the appalling lynchings in the American South to the catastrophe known as the Holocaust in Europe. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; With one hundred images, this is a dynamic, thought-provoking work-history as quest, written as only Marc Aronson could do it.
"Conducting a brisk run from early Western civilization to the present, Aronson (Witch Hunt) gathers historical accounts, literature and artifacts to explore how and why the idea of 'race' was invented. He keeps the pace fast and the meaning clear as he leads readers from one paradox to another, trying to understand what drives one group of human beings to oppress another. Aronson also experiments with a variety of ways to connect with the past; for example, he mixes real and 'invented' anecdotes into the text. Drawing on personal experience, he discloses prejudices he carries and recalls injustices he has observed, demonstrating both candor and respect for his readers. The stories he invents, however, seem more like contrivances, as in a comparison of the motives of a contemporary anorexic with those of early Christians. His references to existing YA novels provide more thought-provoking links between the past and the present. While some of Aronson's assumptions and interpretations could bear more scrutiny (among them, the limits of his white male perspective), his book models the message it sends, about questioning all claims and challenging private biases. It could easily spark debates among teens in class, among friends and with themselves. Ages 12-up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Award-winning author Marc Aronson explores not only the different forms racial prejudice has taken, but the way it has manifested itself in the politics, philosophies, and beliefs of individuals and civilizations, in this ambitious and fascinating study. Photos.
About the Author
andlt;Bandgt;Marc Aronsonandlt;/Bandgt; is the author of the critically acclaimed andlt;i andgt;Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Doradoandlt;/iandgt;, winner of the ALAand#8217;s first Robert L. Sibert Information Book Award for nonfiction and the andlt;Iandgt;Boston Globe-Hornandlt;/Iandgt; Book Award. He has won the LMP Award for editing and has a Ph.D. in American history from NYU. He lives with his wife and son in Maplewood, New Jersey.