Racism: A Short History (Princeton Classics)

October 31, 2020
Racism: A Short History (Princeton Classics)

Are antisemitism and white supremacy manifestations of a generalphenomenon? Why didn't racism appear in Europe before thefourteenth century, and why did it flourish as never before in theeighteenth and nineteenth centuries? Why did the twentieth centurysee institutionalized racism in its most extreme forms? Why areegalitarian societies particularly susceptible to virulent racism?What do apartheid South Africa, Nazi Germany, and the AmericanSouth under Jim Crow have in common? How did the Holocaust advancecivil rights in the United States?With a rare blend of learning, economy, and cutting insight,George Fredrickson surveys the history of Western racism from itsemergence in the late Middle Ages to the present. Beginning withthe medieval antisemitism that put Jews beyond the pale ofhumanity, he traces the spread of racist thinking in the wake ofEuropean expansionism and the beginnings of the African slavetrade. And he examines how the Enlightenment and nineteenth-centuryromantic nationalism created a new intellectual context for debatesover slavery and Jewish emancipation.Fredrickson then makes the first sustained comparison betweenthe color-coded racism of nineteenth-century America and theantisemitic racism that appeared in Germany around the same time.He finds similarity enough to justify the common label but alsomajor differences in the nature and functions of the stereotypesinvoked. The book concludes with a provocative account of the riseand decline of the twentieth century's overtly racist regimes--theJim Crow South, Nazi Germany, and apartheid South Africa--in thecontext of world historical developments.This illuminating work is the first to treat racism across sucha sweep of history and geography. It is distinguished not only byits original comparison of modern racism's two most significantvarieties--white supremacy and antisemitism--but also by itseminent readability.