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The Meaning of Race: Race, History and Culture in Western Society Paperback – 12 Jul 1996

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3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Review

'Kenan Malik has done the almost impossible: written a clear and dispassionate book about a murky and passionate subject.' - Professor Steve Jones, author, The Language of The Genes and In the Blood

'Illuminating, often provocative, and always stimulating, The Meaning of Race reveals how central race is to our ways of thinking and doing, so central that we do not often recognise it as such.' - Marek Kohn, author of The Race Gallery

'Kenan Malik's exploration of the 'race question' is timely and incisive. Read it and be challenged.' - A. Sivanandan, editor, Race and Class

'Malik's aim in this brilliantly ambitious book is to understand the concept of race by examining its social and historical sources...Understanding a problem is the crucial first step to solving it: Malik's thoughtful and thorough account takes us a long way towards that goal.' A.C. Grayling, Financial Times

Review

'Kenan Malik has done the almost impossible: written a clear and dispassionate book about a murky and passionate subject.' - Professor Steve Jones, author, The Language of The Genes and In the Blood

'Illuminating, often provocative, and always stimulating, The Meaning of Race reveals how central race is to our ways of thinking and doing, so central that we do not often recognise it as such.' - Marek Kohn, author of The Race Gallery

'Kenan Malik's exploration of the 'race question' is timely and incisive. Read it and be challenged.' - A. Sivanandan, editor, Race and Class

'Malik's aim in this brilliantly ambitious book is to understand the concept of race by examining its social and historical sources...Understanding a problem is the crucial first step to solving it: Malik's thoughtful and thorough account takes us a long way towards that goal.' A.C. Grayling, Financial Times

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Not interesting or worth reading 12 Jun. 2016
By doug korty - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is not an academic book, it is not a popular or trade book. It is not politically correct or a book critical of political correctness. The author is a freelance journalist and broadcaster. What is it. I really don't know, except to say it isn't much good or very interesting and I don't recommend it. There are some halfway interesting bits in it but nothing that makes all of it worth reading.

Good books and other information on race here:

mwir-race.blogspot.com/
Midwest Independent Research
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fresh new perspective of race and multiculturalism 3 Sept. 2005
By layla - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Is pluralism the most progressive standpoint or does progressive pluralism hold only slightly less racism than conservatism? Malik challenges the decades-old notion that pluralism is the best option for minorities, which most of us have taken for granted since the 70's. I must say that his compelling arguments have had an enormous impact on my political views and changed my perspective on many issues.

My only issue with this book is that he goes into ridiculous amounts of mundane detail. If you have the patience to wade through those details, there are all kinds of interesting new perspectives to find.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First class 26 Oct. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Written with a breadth of knowledge, Malik doesn't disdain evidence taken from popular culture, but his work is replete with academic learning too. His thesis is challenging and well argued, and the book has the rare merit of proposing a view that sets the reader thinking on their own, and not just about race but all forms of socially constructed reality. First class.
8 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Too much politically correct superficiality 26 Aug. 2008
By G. Morton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I find this book much too superficial and outright intellectually dishonest on a number of points. While the book is informative on the historical context of some notions of race, his attacks on many studies that he thinks imply inferiority of races contain obvious distortions.

For instance, in the beginning of chapter 5 his lampoons a study that reveal statistical observations showing that a certain collection of countries have a significantly higher rate of airline crashes than certain 1st world countries and attributes this to a relative lack of "individualism" in challenging authority ( a fear of not deferring to authority is a well known factor in some airline crashes). Malik notes that these more airline accident prone nations are non-white and so accuses this study of essentially hiding a racial prejudice under a presumption of cultural difference:

`By transposing racial difference to cultural difference the notions of "inferiority" and "superiority" had become acceptable, even scientific." `

This is just jumping to preferred conclusions; the study was rightly noting statistical differences and associating them with a certain cultural traits that could be quite valid. Malik is too politically correct to tolerate the possibility of such differences.

Malik, in my opinion, is at his most intellectually dishonest (but politically correct) in his simplistic dismissal of the famous "Bell Curve" book as a "hodgepodge of everyday prejudices" and flawed methodology stemming from "the treatment of race as a biological entity" and "failing to understand intelligence as a social product and conflating correlation and causation." He simply assumes that Murray and Herrnstein were complete idiots. Their treatment of race did not necessarily assume a biological basis, in fact, one can just talk about human groups specifically and measurable group differences (and avoid the word "race"), which have averages (like IQ averages). And there are many psychologists who would take issue with the idea of "intelligence" as just a social product: the Bell Curve book talked of "cognitive ability" or IQ to avoid this loaded word. Furthermore, Murray and Herrnstein go to some pains to explain that they are not conflating correlation and causation. But it seems to be PC sufficient to discredit this book with superficial blather.

This is just a another safe & shallow book on race that the author knows will easily get applause.
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