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American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass Paperback – August 14, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0674018211 ISBN-10: 0674018214
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"During the 1970s and 1980s a word disappeared from the American vocabulary," begins American Apartheid ". . . That word was segregation." But the practice of segregation certainly has not disappeared, as Douglas S. Massey and Nancy A. Denton glaringly expose. One-third of all American blacks live in one of just 16 urban areas, in neighborhoods so racially segregated they have almost no chance at interracial contact. The authors argue that segregation--and disassocation from not only other cultures, but other ways of life--is at the root of many problems facing African-Americans today.

From Scientific American

A major contribution to our understanding of both racism and poverty. One hopes that the book will be read, not only by other scholars and policy analysts, but by a broad spectrum of citizens and by all the leaders of the nation.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674018214
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674018211
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Douglas S. Massey is the Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Formerly he was the Dorothy Swaine Thomas Professor and Chair of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. He is co-author of American Apartheid (Harvard University Press, 1993), which won the Distinguished Publication Award of the American Sociological Association, and more recently he co-authored The Source of the River, the first analysis of minority achievement in selective colleges and universities based on a representative, national sample.

Massey has also published extensively on Mexican immigration, including the books Return to Aztlan (University of California Press, 1987) and Miracles on the Border (University of Arizona Press, 1995). The latter book, co-authored with Jorge Durand, won a 1996 Southwest Book Award. His latest two books on immigration, coauthored with long-time collaborator Jorge Durand, are Crossing the Border (Russell Sage Press, 2004) and Beyond Smoke and Mirrors (Russell Sage Press 2002). The latter offers a critical analysis of U.S. immigration policy toward Mexico during a period of widespread economic integration under NAFTA and won the 2004 Otis Dudley Duncan Award for the best book in social demography,.

Massey has also served on the faculty of the University of Chicago where he directed its Latin American Studies Center and Population Research Center. He is also formerly a director of the University of Pennsylvania's Population Studies Center and chair of its Graduate Group in Demography. During 1979 and 1980 he undertook postdoctoral research at the University of California at Berkeley and Princeton University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1978. Massey is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He is Past-President of the Population Association of America and the American Sociological Association and current President of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

His most recent book is Taming the River: Negotiating the Academic, Financial, and Social Currents in America's Selective Colleges and Universities (Princeton University Press 2009). He is currently revising a book entitled Brokered Boundaries: Constructing Immigrant Identity in Anti-Immigrant Times (co-authored with Magaly Sanchez).

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Anderson on March 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is the most important book explaining the causes of African-American disadvantage in the U.S. today. Packed with data and argumentation, it documents the devastating impact of residential segregation on African-American socioeconomic prospects. One of the best features of the book is the way it subsumes other prominant explanations of African-American disadvantage--for example, William J. Wilson's spatial-mismatch hypothesis, and "culture of poverty"/"black cultural pathology" theories--within its theoretical framework.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Arnie Tracey on June 3, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"American Apartheid" is excellent.

It pulls back the curtain on the real-estate industry's malfeasance vis-a-vis black Americans. And, more importantly, it reveals the systemic collusion of local, state and federal gov't in said matter. All of them acted as "dis"-honest brokers who, for half a century, targeted blacks for ghetto-ization in the form of urban (Indian-like) reservations.

Housing discrimination - A metastatic aspect of racism which has befouled the land for 145 years.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By G. L. Rowsey on October 26, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is more painful to read than Eichmann in Jerusalem, Germinal, or the pornographic The Rehnquist Choice by John Dean. But everyone should try. The book first describes how white Americans have kept their residential neighborhoods white since about 1920. Initially by simply murdering African-Americans trying to move in. Then with widespread restrictive deed covenants. More recently, with loan institution redlining, and low-income public housing under-funding and ripoffs. Most recently, add, with pervasive real estate agent ruses, misdirection, and discouragement. This history needed telling clearly and succinctly. Subsequently, the book defines "apartheid" rigorously and identifies it in sixteen urban areas in the country, urban areas containing a substantial percentage of all African-Americans. The book then looks at the living conditions of the most isolated, homeless and hopeless, drug-and-violence-obsessed African-Americans, and identifies apartheid as a cause, if not the cause, of these conditions.

John Dean's book says that Nixon in the early 1970's required his three Supreme Court appointees, the most important of whom was Chief Justice William Rehnquist, to be "right" on the race-residential question and, essentially, to look with disfavor on federal efforts to enforce the Fair Housing Act with respect to single-family homes. Consequently, American residential neighborhoods -- already less integrated in 1970 than in 1920 -- are less integrated now than in 1970. Between 1920 and 1970 the racial prejudice of individuals probably could be blamed. In the thirty-five years since Rehnquist commenced to "put his stamp" on the United States Supreme Court, it's been the snowballing insanity of our electoral system and its deformed progenies, based on money and gerrymandering undisturbed by Court rulings, that get the credit.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Owen Davis on November 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
No understanding of racial dynamics in the United States can be complete without a working knowledge of segregation, and Massey & Denton's exploration of the subject leaves little to be debated. Creatively and expertly researched, the book thoroughly documents the methods and strategies employed by whites in the ongoing battle for wealth and property in the United States. Particularly damning are the chapters on institutional racism, segregation and the links between governmental policy and the disastrous course of racial equality in the 20th century. While I think Massey & Denton leave a little to be desired in their cultural critique and suggestions for improvement, their research is so well presented and argued that even conservative Charles Murray (who authored the exemplar of late 20th century scientific racism, The Bell Curve) recommends the book. Get this book. It will change the way you think about race and wealth in America.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By dirtymc on June 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
I have looked in to the subject of race relations for quite sometime now. I have taken in to account all the sides from Liberal to Conservative and somehow always felt something was missing. In one short read this book provided me the missing piece that was needed. I may not always agree with the authors' line of thinking but their work is truly groundbreaking even to this day.
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24 of 32 people found the following review helpful By lucy aitkens on March 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
This remains, without question, one of the most excellent and insightful assessments of race in America. Whether you are a US citizen or an international visitor to the US this book is fundmental to understanding the hidden dimensions of ongoing racial division. Read it and pass it on in the hope that people will recognise the irrefutable evidence of racial segregation offered by Massey and Denton.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 22, 2013
Format: Paperback
The authors do a magnificent job in the allocution of their theory, which is a forgotten issue for social justice and equality in American discourse. The statistical data and charts definitely illustrate the multitude of points illuminated by the authors. The statistics are thorough however not boring or overwhelming, thus the authors make great efforts to add flesh to the numbers. A litany of historical details and information are provided in each section providing a background and link to the causes and effects of this issue. For example, the failed policies and ineptitude of the government at the federal and state level, the racism of presidents, the racist's attitudes of those of influence, the tracking methods and surveys of racial prejudice truly denote how the ghetto and residential segregation was not only formed but also maintained. The book also makes the point that many of the laws and institutions that were enacted to protect the public from these acts of racism were complicit and willing participants and that whenever a new policy was made or a court case was settled, a new strategy was invented to maintain the status quo. This was a new area of thinking for me, thus prompted me to seek additional reading materials, cited in the bibliography, which cover this subject. I appreciate how varying opinions and viewpoints are offered, which will be satisfactory for those who appreciate dialectical thinking. This is a brilliant book and a must read for those who desire to expand their knowledge of social consciousness on modern issues.
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