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Colored Property: State Policy and White Racial Politics in Suburban America (Historical Studies of Urban America) [Paperback]

by David M. P. Freund
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

May 15, 2010 0226262766 978-0226262765
In "Colored Property", David M. P. Freund shows how federal intervention spurred a dramatic shift in the language and logic of racial integration in residential neighborhoods after World War II - away from invocations of a mythical racial hierarchy and toward talk of markets, property, and citizenship. Freund traces the emergence of a powerful public-private alliance that facilitated postwar suburban growth across the nation with federal programs that significantly favored whites. Then, showing how this national story played out in metropolitan Detroit, he demonstrates how whites learned to view discrimination not as an act of racism but as a legitimate response to the needs of the market. Illuminating government's powerful yet still-hidden role in the segregation of U.S. cities, "Colored Property" presents a dramatic new vision of metropolitan growth, segregation, and white identity in modern America.

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Colored Property: State Policy and White Racial Politics in Suburban America (Historical Studies of Urban America) + The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Princeton Studies in American Politics)
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Editorial Reviews


“David Freund appears to have ransacked the National Archives and has uncovered a treasure trove of documents that tell an incredible story as they detail behaviors, rationales, and values on the eve of the civil rights revolution. Ultimately, he shows that the American housing market was not simply exploited by racial interests; it was born of—and set up to serve—them.”

(Arnold Hirsch, author of Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago 1)

Colored Property is a sophisticated analysis of the political construction of race. In this provocative examination of federal homeownership and finance programs, Freund shows how government intervention in the housing market reinforced racial differences but masked the consequences in the rhetoric of free choice. Richly detailed and rigorous, Colored Property gives the lie to the myth of colorblindness.”

(Thomas J. Sugrue, author of The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality)

“If we think of the study of race, residence, and urban policy as having been transformed long ago by Arnold Hirsch’s studies of the ‘second ghetto’ in Chicago, and more recently by Thomas Sugrue’s work on Detroit, Colored Property marks a third remaking of this critically important area of inquiry. Freund’s profound work insistently pursues the stories of white city-leavers into the suburbs and so fully links national trends with rich local examples.”

(David Roediger, author of Working Toward Whiteness: How America's Immigrants Bec)

"A creative, vital entry point to explore the tangle of federal mortgage financing, housing reform, and deep-seated racism. . . . This well-written, much needed study brings together the realms of urban history, race relations, and economic opportunity."

"With evidence drawn from a variety of disciplines, Freund raises the standard for urban studies. . . . The successful balance among the individual decisions, racial bias, and economic policy that Freund achieves embodies the ideals of historical anlysis. . . . Colored Property is crucial reading for historians and educators studying the recent past of the metropolitan Midwest. It is also an invaluable work for researchers interested in the expansion of American subuirbs in the twenteth century."
(Walter D. Greason Michigan Historical Review)

"Freund has produced an important book and one likely to become required reading for all students of urban history and federal public policy."
(Charlotte Brooks Journal of American Ethnic History)

"[Freund's book] unravels the ties that bound (and bind) race and property, and, in the process, shows how that linkage altered white racial ideals and politics in postwar America."
(Andrew Wiese Journal of American History)

"Every historian of twentieth-century United States will certainly have to reckon with Colored Property. The study paves the way for new understandingss of everything from the evolution of white racial ideology and federal policy after 1910, to the ways in which the politics of race shaped the postwar Democratic Party, to the reasons why the Detroit metropolitan area today has the highest segregation index in the country. That is no small accomplishment."
(Heather Ann Thompson Journal of Southern History)

"Beware! Colored Property might very well outrage some readers. Whether or not it does . . . it deserves a key place in the historical and sociological scholarship of metropolitan America. . . . Unquestionably Colored Property is a most compelling volume to read and to contemplate. Its scholarship is prodigious. Its findings are searing. Surely this book is destined to exert enduring influence. It is required reading for a multiplicity of audiences, including historians, social scientists, legal scholars, journalists and policy makers."
(Michael H. Ebner Urban History)

About the Author

David M. P. Freund is associate professor of history at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Product Details

  • Series: Historical Studies of Urban America
  • Paperback: 526 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (May 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226262766
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226262765
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #245,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible book July 8, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a very important book. I am amazed by the research that Freund has done and the lucidity of his arguments. I am still in the beginning but I am impressed. An example is Chapter Two, "Local Control and the Rights of Property: The Politics of Incorporation, Zoning and Race before 1945." A classic. It gives a brief summary of how zoning came about and how it was used toward segregation goals. The chapter then goes on clearly and accurately how the federal government became a partner in residential segregation and how the Home Owners Loan Corporation and FHA then advanced segregation through their actions and policies.
This book, in my opinion, is in the same league with Kenneth Jackson's "Crabgrass Frontier." For your basic library.
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