The Obama era produced countless articles arguing that America’s race problems were over. The election of Donald Trump has proved those hasty pronouncements wrong. Race has always played a central role in US society and culture.
Surveying a period from the late seventeenth century—the era in which W.E.B. Du Bois located the emergence of “whiteness”—through the American Revolution and the Civil War to the civil rights movement and the emergence of the American empire, How Race Survived US History reveals how race did far more than persist as an exception in a progressive national history. This masterful account shows how race has remained at the heart of American life well into the twenty-first century.
“Sometime in the US of the past quarter-century, calling policies and the people who dream them up racist became a worse offense than for them to be racist. This inversion, always dressed in self-righteous indignation, is actually part of the social evolution of white supremacy. David Roediger’s book details in sharp and readable prose how race survived US history. It is a must-read for all who strive to understand—and abolish—what underlies the strangely strident rhetoric enveloping everything from presidential contests to prison expansion.”
“In a trenchant, broad-ranging analysis, the leading US historian of racism, David Roediger, demonstrates white supremacy’s incredible staying power against major societal forces that should long ago have dismantled it. Not capitalism, not emancipation, not labor movements, not mass immigration, not the civil rights movement, not colorblind liberalism, and not the Barack Obama presidential campaign—not one of these forces separately, and not all of them together—have been able to destroy the deep structures of white racism in the United States.”
“A pithy little book … Remind[s] us that whiteness was built over centuries on a foundation of deceit and confusion and disguised political imperatives.”
“David Roediger’s bold and brilliant book presents an extraordinary new framework for understanding the persistence of racism in the history of the United States. This book is a wake-up call and a warning, an appeal for understanding and action. It offers a clear and convincing demonstration that white supremacy is not merely a relic of the past but rather a perpetually renewed and infinitely renewable resource for inequality and injustice in the present.”
“This rousing, thought-provoking history illuminates the enveloping 400-year-old history of race in America, and the issues … are as relevant as ever.”
“Scholars and activists will be able to rely upon this book for much needed historical perspective. Based heavily on an acute reading and insightful interpretation of a vast array of the secondary literature, this book is a worthy addition to Roediger’s formidable oeuvre.”
“How Race Survived US History synthesizes a vast secondary literature … into a simple yet elegant analysis.”
“A staggering re-interpretation of the whole course of American history in which the skeletons in the closet walk again. From genocide and massacre to lynching to the coded tongue of liberalism, the bankruptcy of white supremacy is found in the racialized structures maintained by the enclosures of incarceration and the foreclosures of impignoration.”
“An extremely timely argument about the enduring significance of ‘race’ in American society, as well as a sophisticated polemic against the complacent assumption that the Obama phenomenon spells the end of American racism.”