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Getting Under the Skin of "Diversity": Searching for the Color-Blind Ideal Paperback – October 17, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 255 pages
  • Publisher: Robert Lawrence Press, LLC; First edition (October 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982089902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982089903
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,237,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Far too often in my reading on the topics of diversity and race preferences in higher education, I come across books that are exercises in academic mumbo jumbo or a series of ad hominem attacks between cardboard covers. If we are to move beyond race and racism, what we need are more writers that are interested in bringing clarity to the debate. In this respect, Larry Purdy's book is a breath of fresh air. Purdy counters the arguments of the diversity crowd with clear, concise and convincing language. At the same time, he puts to rest unfair charges that to oppose race preferences is to oppose access to equal opportunity. The book is well researched and well argued. It is also eminently readable and accessible to those at all levels of the debate. This is a book I will display in my library and reference again and again. --Joseph C. Phillips (actor, writer, teacher, syndicated columnist)

There quite simply exists no argument against the diversity fetish in higher education more lucid, readable, and conclusive than Larry Purdy's book. It has been a great help to me in my own work, and should be in the canon of readings on racial preferences. --John H. McWhorter (author and Senior Fellow at The Manhattan Institute)

If our courts share the decency of most Americans, Purdy's well-documented research will move them to rule that ny race-based college admissions criteria cannot stand constitutional muster. --Walter E. Williams (John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics, George Mason University)

About the Author

Larry Purdy was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1946. Educated in the Oklahoma public school system, he received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy in 1964. Following his graduation in 1968, he spent the next five years in the Navy including a one year tour in Vietnam. After being honorably discharged from active military duty, he attended William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, graduating in 1977. He has been involved in the private practice of law for the past thirty years. Beginning in 1997, Mr. Purdy served as trial counsel for the plaintiffs in two landmark cases, Grutter and Gratz, decided by the United States Supreme Court in June 2003. In connection with his work on these cases, he made numerous appearances on national television and radio news programs. He also has been a guest lecturer on the subject of race-conscious admissions systems at colleges and universities throughout the country and has appeared before local, state and federal bar associations to discuss the important legal issues raised in the Michigan cases. Mr. Purdy currently practices law in Minneapolis.

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By La Shawn Barber on November 14, 2008
Larry Purdy does a remarkable job dismantling William Bowen's and Derek Bok's arguments. He offers a well-rounded, robust, and insightful critique of their work, using their own writings (and common sense) against them in the process. Both men seemed committed to equality and race neutrality at one point in their careers, and it's anyone's guess why they think differently today.

In "Getting Under the Skin of 'Diversity'," Purdy distinguishes affirmative action and race preferences, two different concepts. It's important to note that affirmative action is not discriminatory, and it's an idea most people support. Preferences, on the other hand, are discriminatory.

As Purdy says, racism is no longer a barrier to equal opportunity in America. Much of the "catching up" work (like closing the academic achievement gap) has to be done on an individual level, and race preferences obviously frustrate that end.

No one has yet demonstrated, including Bowen and Bok, the so-called value of racial diversity for its own sake and why it's considered compelling enough to continue to discriminate based on race. When did diversity supplant fairness as a fundamental principle?
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Peter W. Wood on October 27, 2008
Getting Under the Skin of "Diversity" is a major achievement. It is the definitive answer to Bowen and Bok's celebrated defense of racial preferences in higher education, The Shape of the River, and the one book that you need to read to find your way through the luxuriant forest of rationalizations for privileging race in college admissions. Purdy, one of the lawyers who represented the plaintiffs in the Gratz and Grutter cases, understands the pro-preference side's core arguments (as well as its dodges, evasions, and occasional mendacities) like no one else. His response in Getting Under the Skin of "Diversity" is Ciceronian in its combination of cool mastery of the facts with deep moral urgency.

Full disclosure: I read this book in manuscript in successive drafts and contributed the "Foreword."
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