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Diversity: The Invention of a Concept Paperback – July 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books (July 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594030421
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594030420
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #728,685 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Anthropology professor Wood examines two kinds of diversity. Diversity as physical and cultural variation among humans was propounded by nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century systematic anthropology. Diversity as the conviction that physical and cultural traits should determine one's eligibility for admission to college, career advancement, and bestowal of government largesse arose from Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell's freestanding decision in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, in which he allowed that differences in race, gender, and other traits--designated as diversity--were worthy of consideration in distributing social goods. The new diversity quickly became an aggressive ideology, damaging American institutions and poisoning public discourse with "identity politics." Wood blames the Left for using diversity to undermine democracy and faintly praises the marketplace for trivializing it into a matter of lifestyle choice. But the marketplace is interested in making money off diversity, not quashing it. "We will be left," he sadly concludes his otherwise surprisingly congenial survey, "for a long while still, with the reign of diversity's pasteboard stereotypes." Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A perceptive and closely reasoned examination of the spread and implications of contemporary Diversity."

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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So read this one; you will be smarter for having done so.
BH
An especially helpful passage in Wood's book is his breakdown of the Bakke decision, which upheld the race-preference factor in school admissions process.
grapabo
Diversity is a new concept, as Dr. Wood scrupulously points out.
J. C Clark

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

111 of 120 people found the following review helpful By jimfocus on March 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
My politics and Dr. Wood's are miles apart, but his book is exceptionally well-written, researched and timely (the Supreme Court will be hearing the U-M case next month). Though I disagreed with him on a nearly page by page pace, his engaging style and sincerity kept me at it. Shelby Steele is right--it really reads like a novel in places. The really surprising aspect of this erudite and on-the-face-of-it academic tome is it's humor. This is a very funny book with many laugh-out-loud passages. Wood makes us re-examine ourselves on the most passionate subject in our history with great wit and humor. That's why Diversity is head and shoulders above right wing screeds (anything by Ann Coulter, for example) it may be thrown in with--that would be a mistake. Diversity is an excellent read for unrepentant lefties like me who need to have their orthodoxy and intellectual cobwebs shaken up for review every so often. Highly recommend.
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53 of 57 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
A brilliant dissection of "diversity." The quotation marks are necessary because the concept Wood is writing about--and all of AMerican higher education is obsessively talking about--has no relationship to the original meaning of the word--multiplicity and variety. "Diversity" is now a word describing schemes to manipulate people and numbers for racial and ethnic objectives. This is a book that shows how this happened. It is far from being a polemic, however. Rather, Wood, an anthopologist by trade, writes elegantly in tracing the back alleyways and intellectual boutiques through which "diversity" has passed on its way to the center stage in American life (and to a Supreme Court decision.)
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Thompson on December 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Professor Wood admits that, in contemporary America, only the most intrepid minds dare question diversity's exalted stature as a cultural ideal. So it should say something Wood's disregard for his own reputation that he has written this book, which assails the ideal of diversity on page by page pace. I will admit that I bought this book hoping to see just this kind of thing-to see a credible author and skilled mind slay diversity in a "public setting." Of course, it's only a public setting if more people read the book.

My own antipathy toward diversity took root during my undergraduate experience at the University of Nebraska, where diversity pervaded official policy, speeches, campus news articles, and student government. Not despising diversity, I merely became irritated with its omnipresence, the way one might tire of a food group if forced to eat it at every sitting. In short, I was unaware of diversity's true malevolence before reading this book. But Wood documents diversity's self-contradictions, its empty thinking, its threat to individualism, its corrosive impact on higher education, and more. In higher education, for instance, Wood attacks race preferences for admission (carried out in the name of diversity) and notes that, at the U. of Michigan, a white applicant to law school scoring between 163-165 on the LSAT and holding a 3.25 GPA has about a 23% chance of being admitted. A minority student with the exact same academic credentials has a 99% chance. I mention this in this review so that the potential reader can get a feel for the content of this book.

Of higher education, Professor Wood also points out how diversity is cleverly used as a two-faced recruitment tool.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By "johnnyarnp" on August 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Peter Wood's book is written in an easy-to-read, logical, and well-reasoned fashion. Before earning my master's degree last year, I attended meetings at the university's "Diversity Task Force". I must admit to using some of Peter Wood's same arguments regarding the superficiality and shallowness of the "Task Force" criteria for measuring the diversity of the student body -- It felt like I was banging my head against the wall! I sensed that my white male status was seen as subtracting from the diversity of the student body, regardless of my diverse life experiences. Maybe if I were raised by a pack of wolves? How come this makes so much sense and many other people don't see it? Thank you Peter Wood for this timely book. I wonder if the logic and science will be enough to deprogram any diversiphiles. In my experience, they are close-minded to any argument, regardless of reason, that may disrupt their delusion. I would also like to add that most of the diversiphiles I met are good people who have good intentions; however, we all know the road to hell is paved with good intentions. This book should be required reading for all people who want to improve "diversity".
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on March 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Diversity: The Invention Of A Concept by Peter Wood (Professor of Anthropology, Boston University) is a cautionary look at the extent to what the idea of "diversity" is evolving within the context of contemporary American society. The modern notion of "diversity" represents a type of surprisingly narrow conformity, to the point where celebrations of cultural "difference" can have deleterious effects on the appreciation of commonly held cultural traditions. Warning that it is time to rethink the nation's idea of what "diversity" truly is and why it should not pre-empt the strength that lies in national unity, Diversity: The Invention Of A Concept is a timely, thought-provoking, and highly recommended reading.
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