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Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race (The Lawrence Stone Lectures) [Hardcover]

Thomas J. Sugrue
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Book Description

2 May 2010 The Lawrence Stone Lectures

Barack Obama, in his acclaimed campaign speech discussing the troubling complexities of race in America today, quoted William Faulkner's famous remark "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." In Not Even Past, award-winning historian Thomas Sugrue examines the paradox of race in Obama's America and how President Obama intends to deal with it.

Obama's journey to the White House undoubtedly marks a watershed in the history of race in America. Yet even in what is being hailed as the post-civil rights era, racial divisions--particularly between blacks and whites--remain deeply entrenched in American life. Sugrue traces Obama's evolving understanding of race and racial inequality throughout his career, from his early days as a community organizer in Chicago, to his time as an attorney and scholar, to his spectacular rise to power as a charismatic and savvy politician, to his dramatic presidential campaign. Sugrue looks at Obama's place in the contested history of the civil rights struggle; his views about the root causes of black poverty in America; and the incredible challenges confronting his historic presidency.

Does Obama's presidency signal the end of race in American life? In Not Even Past, a leading historian of civil rights, race, and urban America offers a revealing and unflinchingly honest assessment of the culture and politics of race in the age of Obama, and of our prospects for a postracial America.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (2 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691137307
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691137308
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 14.6 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,490,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Finalist for the 2010 National Book Award, The University of Memphis, Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change

"Distinguished civil rights historian and sociologist Sugrue (Sweet Land of Liberty) follows Barack Obama's intellectual journey and political education from his student years in the late 1970s through his first years as president, offering an insightful and fresh glimpse of Obama through three lenses--as intellectual, politician, and policy maker--and with three essays. While David Remnick's comprehensive The Bridge bears thematic similarities, Sugrue offers a pithy and readable survey of some of the same terrain--the path that 'rooted the rootless Hawaiian in the history of the Southern freedom struggle' and the formation of his politics that favored 'reconciliation over confrontation.' Sugrue addresses Obama's Chicago years and the evolution of his thinking on class. And the final essay assesses Obama as candidate and president. Particularly noteworthy is Sugrue's attention to Obama's post-Jeremiah Wright controversy speech in 2008 ('the most learned disquisition on race from a major political figure ever') and a splendid illumination of the roles played by books (particularly the work of William Julius Wilson), by mentors (political and clerical), and by family (especially Michelle Obama's) in Obama's ascent."--Publishers Weekly

"His work adds missing nuance and complexity to the discussion of the history of race and its present societal scars. Readers looking for simple answers or reasons to believe we are in a postracial America will be severely disappointed, as they should be. Readers willing to engage the complexity of race in contemporary American life and politics will find Sugrue's observations insightful and, at times, appropriately depressing."--Amy Black, Books & Culture

"Sugrue examines Obama's race speech during the presidential campaign that reflected the impulses of 'a more perfect union' and explores major themes of racial divisions, including the moral equivalence of black anger and white backlash."--Vernon Ford, Booklist

"Thomas Sugrue's fine book offers a cogent and powerful explanation for [the] mismatch between expectations and reality. He situates Barack Obama's personal racial and political odyssey in a richly textured history of race, class, and politics in the late twentieth century, and in Sugrue's deft and elegant prose, Obama's political biography becomes a lens through which American politics and race relations come into clearer view. . . . [T]he persistence of racial inequality in an apparently "post-racial" world--that is perhaps the most profound challenge facing American politics and society, and Sugrue's book is an essential guide to those who seek to answer that challenge."--Robert C. Lieberman, Political Science Quarterly

From the Inside Flap

"In Not Even Past, one of America's most prominent historians of race and rights turns a shrewd and honest eye to the contemporary scene. It should be essential reading for anyone trying to understand the changes in racial experience and argument in America since the 1960s, and Barack Obama's place in them."--Daniel T. Rodgers, author of Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age

"In this brilliant work of contemporary history, Thomas Sugrue vividly reconstructs the America in which Barack Obama came of age, and expertly probes the varied political and intellectual influences that have shaped our president's thinking about race and civil rights. No one has written about the complexities of racial politics or Obama's racial compromises with more skill, insight, or erudition. A powerful and sobering book."--Gary Gerstle, author of American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century

"Thomas Sugrue's elegant book offers a compelling look at the state of American race relations at the moment of Obama's ascendancy. Embedding this political moment in the context of the complex portrait of civil rights developed in his previous work, Sugrue enables us to see both the power and also the limits of charismatic leadership in driving social change."--Mary L. Dudziak, author of Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy

"Not Even Past is a thoughtful reflection on Barack Obama's rise to the presidency and what it tells us--and doesn't tell us--about the meaning and significance of race in the twenty-first-century United States. Admirably concise and elegantly written, this book lays bare the mystique of the 'postracial' presidency without resorting to the kinds of unanchored generalizations and truisms that too often attend conversations about race."--Alice O'Connor, University of California, Santa Barbara

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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 25 Feb 2011
By McG
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The author demonstrates a profound understanding of America's worst problem - intransigent, profound racism against Black people.

Even as I write the word "Black" to describe President Obama's ethnicity it feels odd. His skin tone is so light coffee coloured that he barely looks "black". But that is America. Any mix of colour, no matter how slight marks the individual as "Black". Most Americans are of mixed race, especially those from the Deep South, the most racist part of the country. In large urban areas it is increasingly difficult to tell where anyone is from -are they latino, african american, arabic, Indian, Asian? We Americans hyphonate ourselves - Irish-American, Italian-American, African-American - but the truth is we are all beginning the blend together. Someday we will all be mixed together.

But for now, the bizarre right wing of the US and alot of people who claim to be open-minded on the issue of race, dislike the fact that our President is a person of colour. For me, Barack's election meant a milestone, we had finally had the watershed moment of allowing a person to transcend race. Ah, but how brief was the moment! Obama won by a landslide, but it did not take the GOP long to find a way to throw down the "invisible" fear - and now the GOP is too moderate for many of those who have moved far to the right. They say it is because they fear Obama has terrorist connections; they say it is because his name is odd (Barack Hussein Obama); they say it is based on those prejudices which are somehow justifiable in the minds of Americans because a handful of extremist murderers ruthlessly attacked the World Trade Centre.

But the real reason is fundamental dislike of his skin colour.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book & great buy! 30 Mar 2014
By Ambria vines - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I needed this particular book for my Race & Ethics class this semester and I received it within 3 days in PERFECT condition. None of the pages were marked on! I recommend!
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 30 Aug 2014
By wendy - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Got this for class and it's do much cheaper than buying the physical textbook
3 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very insightful 12 Oct 2010
By Britt Starghill - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
America has engaged a very interesting epoch in history and one that is a great witness of her ability to grow from the past. This book takes the heart of the matter from the first Black President Barack Obama and how his election stokes the fires of a "new" day in this country. This book is insightful, rich, and riveting.
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