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A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America Hardcover – September 30, 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 607 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (September 30, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394589750
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394589756
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.8 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,551,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

David K. Shipler, a long-time reporter for the New York Times in the U.S. and overseas, calls A Country of Strangers "a journey along the color line," an attempt to trace "the landscape where blacks and whites find mutual encounters." As such, it's a journey (one that took five years) across America, listening and talking to black and white Americans about the conundrum of race. At once poignant and profound, A Country of Strangers begins with an examination of the tension between integration and segregation, continues through a look at the ways blacks and whites stereotype each other, and concludes with a section on choices--the ways in which we can reshape the racial landscape. Not everyone will agree with Shipler's optimistic conclusions, but we could do worse than to accompany him on this remarkable journey.

From Library Journal

Conversation about race remains one of the most taboo subjects in America. "Since we do not know each other very well," Shipler writes, "we do not know what the other thinks of us." In his new book, he investigates and analyses social, political, cultural, and psychological issues from the perspective of both blacks and whites with a view toward breaking this silence. The result is a lengthy but eminently readable book enriched with dialog from interviews that crisscross the spectrum of ethnic and economic populations. Shipler considers such complex topics as sociocultural meanings of race, biculturalism, Afrocentrism, affirmative action, consequences of stereotyping, discrimination, affirmative action, and diversity training. In spite of his book's breadth, topics are discussed in depth and with sensitivity. Shipler, a former New York Times journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner, is also the author of Russia: Broken Idols, Solemn Dreams (LJ 9/1/93). Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries.
-?Faye Powell, Portland State Univ. Lib., Ore.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

David K. Shipler

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author and Former Foreign
Correspondent of The New York Times
Writes online at The Shipler Report, http://shiplerreport.blogspot.com/

Born Dec. 3, 1942. Grew up in Chatham, N.J. Married with three children. Graduated from Dartmouth in 1964. Served in U.S. Navy as officer on a destroyer, 1964-66.

Joined The New York Times as a news clerk in 1966. Promoted to city staff reporter, 1968. Covered housing, poverty, politics. Won awards from the American Political Science Association, the New York Newspaper Guild, and elsewhere.

From 1973-75 served as a New York Times correspondent in Saigon, covering South Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. Reported also from Burma.

Spent a semester in 1975 at the Russian Institute of Columbia U. studying Russian language and Soviet politics, economics and history to prepare for assignment in Moscow. Correspondent in Moscow Bureau for four years, 1975-79; Moscow Bureau Chief from 1977-79. Wrote the best-seller Russia: Broken Idols, Solemn Dreams, published in 1983, updated in 1989, which won the Overseas Press Club Award in 1983 as the best book that year on foreign affairs.

From 1979-84, served as Bureau Chief of The New York Times in Jerusalem. Was co-recipient (with Thomas Friedman) of the 1983 George Polk Award for covering Lebanon War.

Spent a year, 1984-85, as a visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington to write Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land, which explores the mutual perceptions and relationships between Arabs and Jews in Israel and the West Bank. The book won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction and was extensively revised and updated in 2002. Was executive producer, writer and narrator of a two-hour PBS documentary on Arab and Jew, which won a 1990 Dupont-Columbia award for broadcast journalism, and of a one-hour film, Arab and Jew: Return to the Promised Land, which aired on PBS in August 2002.

Served as Chief Diplomatic Correspondent in the Washington Bureau of The New York Times until 1988. From 1988-90 was a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, writing on transitions to democracy in Russia and Eastern Europe for The New Yorker and other publications.

His book A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America, based on five years of research into stereotyping and interactions across racial lines, was published in 1997. One of three authors invited by President Clinton to participate in his first town meeting on race.

His book, The Working Poor: Invisible in America, was a national best-seller in 2004 and 2005. It was a finalist for the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award and the New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Award. It won an Outstanding Book Award from The Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights at Simmons College and led to awards from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, the New York Labor Communications Council, and the D.C. Employment Justice Center. He has written two books on civil liberties, the first published in 2011, The Rights of the People: How Our Search for Safety Invades Our Liberties and the second, Rights at Risk: The Limits of Liberty in Modern America, in 2012.

Shipler has received a Martin Luther King Jr. Social Justice Award from Dartmouth and the following honorary degrees: Doctor of Letters from Middlebury College and Glassboro State College (N.J.), Doctor of Laws from Birmingham-Southern College, and Master of Arts from Dartmouth College, where he served on the Board of Trustees from 1993 to 2003. Member of the Pulitzer jury for general nonfiction in 2008, chair in 2009. Has taught at Princeton and American University, as writer-in-residence at U. of Southern California, a Woodrow Wilson Fellow on about fifteen campuses, and a Montgomery Fellow and Visiting Professor of Government at Dartmouth.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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I believe everyone should read this book and debate the content.
Hedi L Rudd
Shipler has compiled a great deal of first person accounts and analyzed them in such a way that the reader cannot deny the truthfulness and depth of the arguments.
Damian Cola
Three-fourths of the way through this book, I am blown away by what I have read so far.
Rgirls@aol.com

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Hedi L Rudd on February 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
I found David Shiplers book to be very true and to the point. Being a person of color, I already know how we (people of color) feel about race relations. I found it most helpful to see it through the eyes of a white male. I have been tempted to buy a box of this book and carry it with me to give to people. I believe everyone should read this book and debate the content. Of course, not everyone will agree, but for those who are just beginning to explore race relations, this is a great introduction and a most interesting read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Shipler does a fine job in this book at examining how race impacts numerous situations in America. He leaves out, for the most part, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, Native Americans and other groups, in his focus on white and black, and readily acknowledges this - since that division is the one most discussed, it begs the most attention. A good analysis of race in the military, in education, in the workplace, in the family, in the communities - in basically every situation - is contained within this book. Mr. Shipler writes with a journalist's style, letting the voices of many different people be heard, without imposing his own too often. Well-researched, well-written and most definitely recommended. Books on racial issues are very common, but this one seems to stand out among them in many ways.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By zardi@ricochet.net on January 14, 1998
Format: Hardcover
As the white father of black/white inter-racial children, I needed to better understand some of the reasons and motivations driving racist behavior. Shipler's book took me through several on-point situations that have arisen in my life and enabled me to understand how "color-blind" people can continue to discriminate through their actions and deeds. Shipler's ability to observe and report without scathing judgemental attacks enhances the book's credibility. Our copy of the book now has many dog-eared pages that will be shared with friends, teachers and others. My decision to purchase the book is an interesting story: Our third grade daughter, returning from school recess with play-tossed hair, was told by her white teacher,"Gee, your hair looks like Don King's!". Even though our little girl had no idea who Don King was, we confronted the teacher about this inappropriate comment. The teacher was insulted that we could assume she was biased in any way. That evening, NPR interviewed Mr. Shipler, and the book was ordered from Amazon.com within the hour.Shipler's book points out that many of us are convinced we are not racist or biased, however, our upbringing and the input we have received living in a racist country leaves many of us with residual habits that are percieved by others as racist ways. These are very difficult habits or attitudes to change, however, his book should enable many readers to anticipate and prevent behavior that may be interpreted as insulting by those of different colors or cultures.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Rgirls@aol.com on February 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
Three-fourths of the way through this book, I am blown away by what I have read so far. It is NOT an easy book to read, especially for someone like me, who has led a pretty sheltered life. Although I knew about 'slavery' and "civil rights' and thought myself to be pretty educated, this book makes me realize that I have known NOTHING of the real world,the one that African-Americans, and other oppressed people, live in. I really appreciate the chance that this book has given me to see the world and live the day through their eyes. I find myself thinking about it all the time--do blacks really think of me like THAT? I wonder. Do I ever do THIS unconsiously? This is the kind of book that makes you ache for company to discuss it; to debate it; to share. If you belong to a book club, this should be your next read! I cannot say enough about how it has stirred my emotions, my imagination, my shame, and my sadness.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 25, 1998
Format: Paperback
Shipler's book shows how polarized race relations are in this country. He is not afraid of confronting stereotypes perceived by blacks and whites. Shipler does not take sides and presents harsh, yet honest feelings on how blacks and whites feel about one another. Its about time race relations is addressed in such a realistic manner. The politicians and media tend to sugercoat the hostilities and mistrust that exist between the races. If Mr. Shipler is so inclined to write another book, I'd like for him to address race relations to include issues concerning Asians and Hispanics.
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