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Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality? Paperback – December 17, 1985


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (December 17, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688062695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688062699
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,178,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Thomas Sowell is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has been a professor of economics at leading American colleges and universities, and has lectured in Singapore, Israel, Switzerland, and Germany, as well as across the United States.


More About the Author

Thomas Sowell has taught economics at Cornell, UCLA, Amherst and other academic institutions, and his Basic Economics has been translated into six languages. He is currently a scholar in residence at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has published in both academic journals in such popular media as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes magazine and Fortune, and writes a syndicated column that appears in newspapers across the country.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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There are plenty more examples of the above nature in this book.
Doug
Dr. Sowell concludes that Civil Rights have become an easy way to gain favor with whatever new initiative someone might design.
Thomas Stamper
Anyone who reads this book will come away with a better understanding of what the Civil Rights movement was all about.
D. Stewart

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

159 of 165 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Woods on April 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
Although a slim volume, Sowell's Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality? is one of the most important books on the subject ever written. One by one, the standard platitudes about discrimination and poverty fall before Sowell's relentless statistical assault. Discrimination causes poverty? How about the Chinese minority in Southeast Asia? Discrimination against the Chinese minority is actually written into the Malaysian constitution. And yet the Chinese minority still dominates the economy. Likewise, Japanese-Americans were discriminated against so badly that 120,000 of them were forcibly relocated during World War II. Yet by 1959 they had equaled whites in income, and by 1969 were earning one third more. Politics is the only way for a minority group to advance? To the contrary: the general pattern in the United States has been for a group to become wealthy first and only then to enter politics (if at all). The Irish, on the other hand, who placed such emphasis on political action, lagged behind other ethnic groups.
The book is absolutely filled with information like this. Moreover, Sowell also discusses the perils of attributing income disparities to "racism" and "discrimination." I had to laugh when I read the critical reviewer below who claimed that Sowell's book was "simplistic." Whatever criticism one might make of it, no one who actually read the book could describe it that way. In fact, I'm a college professor who assigned the book to my students, and their general complaint was actually that it was too complicated! Sowell's whole point is that it is the current "civil rights" establishment that is simplistic-all statistical disparities between groups can have only one cause: discrimination.
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75 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Todd Winer on August 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
Thomas Sowell is one of the most articulate and intelligent authors today. His books are well-researched, politically unconventional, and highly persuasive. In this work, Mr. Sowell confronts the "rhetoric" of the civil rights establishment and contrasts it with the "reality" of American society and American law. The liberal establishment, according to Mr. Sowell, made a key blunder in the late 1960s. After the civil rights revolution became public policy, many assumed that there would be "statistical equality" between whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians in all categories from family income levels to loan-acceptance rates. Needless to say, this did not happen during the heady days of the civil rights revolution. Even in the year 2000, this equality still has yet to occur. The only explanation, according to activists, is systematic racism. It would be nearly impossible for Americans to believe that - nearly 50 years after the Brown decision - we still live in a systemically racist society. But that is precisely the rhetoric that is force-fed to the American public. Mr. Sowell, on the other hand, states that discrimination does not explain the statistical variance. For example, Asian-Americans outperform Anglo-Americans on virtually everything from SAT scores to PhDs. Surely no one would claim that American society discriminates against whites in favor of Asians. We must take other factors into account if we are to explain this mystery. Family size, age, educational courses chosen, and savings rates are just some of the myriad ways that our races distinguish themselves. When we control these factors, there is absolutely no divergence between the races.Read more ›
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Stamper VINE VOICE on May 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
Although written 20 years ago, Thomas Sowell's book about the Civil Rights Movement reads like it was penned last month. Unlike many academics that simply take social policy at face value and support any policy that sets out to help, Economist Dr. Sowell measures the success of initiatives against their purported intentions. This is a great formula for honest education, but it doesn't win many friends in academia.
Sowell demonstrates how discrimination alone does not result in poverty. He points out the success of the Chinese minority in many Asian countries where discrimination against the Chinese is written into the constitution. He also points out the many hardships put towards Jews in history and their accumulation of wealth despite the hardships.
He shows some curiosity in how striving for equal opportunity in America eventually became affirmative action. He has the same curiosity about how de-segregation became busing. He then takes a hard look at the special cases of women and blacks.
Since the book was set at the 30th anniversary of Brown v. The Board of Education and the 20th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Sowell examines the conditions of education and economics before and after those important dates. He finds just the kinds of facts that will be detested by the Civil Rights industry.
Dr. Sowell concludes that Civil Rights have become an easy way to gain favor with whatever new initiative someone might design. Now everything is a Civil Right and every new plague known to man is not usually the result of a denial of Civil Rights.
The question no one but Sowell asks is how can we expect an equal outcome in the world when humans all have different experiences and abilities?
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