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Racists Paperback – 4 Jan 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition (4 Jan. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753821508
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753821503
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.5 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,189,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A Fascinating book that not only tackles racism but also the oddities of science (IN THE KNOW)

[A] moving, elegant novel (BIG ISSUE - SCOTLAND)

Book Description

1855: the most ambitious experiment in race science begins on a deserted island, where two infants, a black boy and a white girl, are raised together in the wilderness.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Susieqt on 28 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback
I was drawn to this book by its controversial title as I thought it would have an interesting view on Racists that had perhaps not been considered before. In some ways, this book fulfilled this aspect as it touched on the subject of craniology to explore the area of colour. Which although I knew this subject was used widely in the 18th Century Victorian era to explore certain species of man before, I hadn't really known about in depth what it entailed.

This novel primarily takes two scientists (Bates from England and Belavoix from France). They plan to conduct a 12 year experiment to discover which race is more superior than the other. They use a white girl and a black boy for this experiment. Both intend to be "supervised" from babies to 12 years old by a mute servant who is under strict instruction not to bring them up as their mother, but merely to make sure they are fed, tended to and kept safe (within reason). They are basically able to roam free and see what happens.

Bates is a Craniologist that feels this is the best way forward with this experiment, through measuring their heads and calculating figures based on this. Belavoix however is more of a scientist that looks at observations of the children and their interaction with each other and writes notes based on what he sees and their actions. Both feel their way is best to draw conclusions. There are many clashes as to which way each feels is best and lots of English Vs French bickering between the two.

This is why the story lacks a "punch" as it were. It focuses on the scientists and the other characters too much, rather than the children. By making their guardian mute, renders them no real plausible role in the novel and they become virtually invisible to the plot and the story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DubaiReader VINE VOICE on 19 Jan. 2007
Format: Paperback
This was a wonderful subject for a book, with so much scope to enthrall us. Unfortunately it didn't deliver on its promise.

The central characters are two scientists and an assistant,in the middle of the nineteenth century. They set out to prove whether white races are more evolved than black, or from a completely different origin.

To this end, they send a black girl and white boy, as babies, to live on an isolated island with a mute nurse.

As the children grow up, wild and free, the scientists visit every six months to take measurements and observe.

Personally I would have liked more emphasis on the life of the children, especially during the periods when the scientists were absent and less of the squabbling between the scientists.

I also found the end disappointing, the book seemed to be building towards a dramatic climax, but failed to deliver.
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Format: Paperback
A naive and preposterous fiction posited on a half-baked premise. The science is cockamamie. In this supposedly pre-Darwinian world the advocate of polygeny, the (post-Darwinian) idea that distinct races arose separately, sees this as evidence for their 'equality'. How so? He's pitted against a traditionalist Adam-and-Ever who sees men as of common stock, in this being both Darwinian and literalist, yet who upholds the inequality of races! (Equating whites with Hebrews??) Then there's the idea that the more intelligent ('evolved') of two children brought up in isolation would murder the other.. So, not a novel of ideas, then, more a delayed-action Agatha Christie (there's even a Poirot figure) or perhaps a clunky classic serial screenplay. The older characters are caricatures, the young(ish) lovers unconvincing, colourless; the chief interest lies in the children, scarcely differentiated (thus confirming their McGuffin status) and largely off-stage. I might have preferred a first-person voice or two as a break from Mr Omniscient Narrator aka Mr Make-it-up-as-you-go-along. As for authenticity, I suppose it's no longer worth putting up a fight for 'bring up' over the American 'raise', but at this period 'you might fancy' (ugh) would have been TAKE A fancy TO, and there's an anacronistic split infinitive on page 175. And whoever permitted 'pry open', twice, for 'prise open'? But hey, that's evolution, no?

I guess in this context the word feral is unavoidable - though in this preposterous scenario the children get their meals cooked for them! Anyway, we say it like serial, not ferrous, folks - or we used to - and Americans still do. Another word that has gone feral lately is rabid (ray-bid). (It's from rabies!) Makes me mad.. AEIOU rabid feral viral Roman news. (Except that with u it's the oo sound that's going awol. Shoot me now.)
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