In The House I Live In, award-winning historian Robert J. Norrell offers a truly masterful chronicle of American race relations over the last one hundred and fifty years. This scrupulously fair and insightful narrative--the most ambitious and wide-ranging history of its kind--sheds new light on the ideologies, from white supremacy to black nationalism, that have shaped race relations since the Civil War. Norrell argues that it is these ideologies, more than politics or economics, that have sculpted the landscape of race in America. Beginning with Reconstruction, he shows how the democratic values of liberty and equality were infused with new meaning by Abraham Lincoln, only to become meaningless for generations of African Americans as the white supremacy movement took shape. The heart of the book paints a vivid portrait of the long, often dangerous struggle of the Civil Rights movement to overcome decades of accepted inequality. Norrell offers fresh appraisals of key Civil Rights figures and dissects the ideas of racists. He offers striking new insights into black-white history, observing for instance that the Civil Rights movement really began as early as the 1930s, and that contrary to much recent writing, the Cold War was a setback rather than a boost to the quest for racial justice. He also breaks new ground on the role of popular culture and mass media in first promoting, but later helping defeat, notions of white supremacy. Though the struggle for equality is far from over, Norrell writes that today we are closer than ever to fulfilling the promise of our democratic values. The House I Live In gives readers the first full understanding of how far we have come.
- Publication Date:
- 27 / 04 / 2006