The History of White People

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9780393339741: The History of White People
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A New York Times bestseller: “This terrific new book . . . [explores] the ‘notion of whiteness,’ an idea as dangerous as it is seductive.”―Boston Globe

Telling perhaps the most important forgotten story in American history, eminent historian Nell Irvin Painter guides us through more than two thousand years of Western civilization, illuminating not only the invention of race but also the frequent praise of “whiteness” for economic, scientific, and political ends. A story filled with towering historical figures, The History of White People closes a huge gap in literature that has long focused on the non-white and forcefully reminds us that the concept of “race” is an all-too-human invention whose meaning, importance, and reality have changed as it has been driven by a long and rich history of events. 70 black-and-white illustrations

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Advance praise for The History of White People:

“Deeply researched, intelligent, and wonderfully common-sensical, this is a ground-breaking book, and if we’re ever going to get to that so- called ‘post-racial’ society, a necessary book. It locates race where it actually exists, inside our heads, and shows us how recently it came to reside there.”―Russell Banks, author of The Sweet Hereafter and Affliction

“In this wide-ranging and passionate book, Nell Painter makes the story of American history into something new. Her array of writers, artists, and politicians, some familiar and some surprising, struggle mightily to create a concept many Americans of all backgrounds now take for granted: ‘white people.’ ”―Edward Ayers, author of In the Presence of Mine Enemies

The History of White People is a brilliant meditation on the invention of the idea of ‘whiteness.’ Deeply researched and elegantly written, Painter’s presentation will certainly spark conversation and controversy―as it should. Painter’s high-octane intelligence makes her perfectly suited to the task.”―Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Hemingses of Monticello

“Nell Painter’s The History of White People is an amazing race-bending narrative. With grace and energy, she confronts the myth of white people as race-less. She offers an eye-opening examination of slavery, the creation of white-ness, and the way in which racial categories have been both false and destructive. This is story-telling at its best.”―Ellen Goodman, syndicated columnist, Washington Post Writers Group

“Not since Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man has there been such a synoptically provocative appreciation of the myths by which a now demographically challenged people sustained themselves and restrained others.”―David Levering Lewis, professor of history, New York University Abu Dhabi, and Pulitzer Prize–winning author of W. E. B. Du Bois, 1868–1919: Biography of a Race

About the Author:

Nell Irvin Painter is the award-winning author of many books, including Sojourner Truth, Southern History Across the Color Line, Creating Black Americans, The History of White People, and Standing at Armageddon. She is currently the Edwards Professor of American History, Emerita, at Princeton University and lives in Newark, New Jersey, and the Adirondacks.

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