Iron Cages : Race and Culture in 19th-Century America Revised Edition

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195137378
ISBN-10: 019513737X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Suitable for surveys and advanced courses in Ethnic and social history, this book has important revelations for our 21st century students. It tells of paths taken and abandoned, lessons learned and ignored, and consequences. A thought provoker."--Stuart Knee, College of Charleston

About the Author

Ronald Takaki is at University of California, Berkeley.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Revised edition (March 9, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019513737X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195137378
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.6 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #586,547 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

My grandfather emigrated from Japan to work on the cane fields of Hawaii in 1886, and my mother was born on the Hawi Plantation. As a teenager growing up on Oahu, I was not academically inclined but was actually a surfer. During my senior year, I took a religion course taught by Dr. Shunji Nishi, a Japanese American with a Ph.D. I remember going home and asking my mother, who only had an eighth-grade education: "Mom, what's a Ph.D.?" She answered: "I don't know but he must be very smart." Dr. Nishi became a role model for me, and he arranged for me to attend the College of Wooster. There my fellow white students asked me questions like: "How long have you been in this county? Where did you learn to speak English?" They did not see me as a fellow American. I did not look white or European in ancestry. As a scholar, I have been seeking to write a more inclusive and hence more accurate history of Americans, Chicanos, Native Americans as well as certain European immigrant groups like the Irish and Jews. My scholarship seeks not to separate our diverse groups but to show how our experiences were different but they were not disparate. Multicultural history, as I write and present it, leads not to what Schlesinger calls the "disuniting of America" but rather to the re-uniting of America.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By "dena7" on June 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
Professor Takaki picks up where Max Weber left off, in that he illustrates how white men of means - those "culture makers" of early American society, effectively raised the American level of technical rationalization to not only oppress Africans, Asians, Mexicans, and Native Americas, but how that heightened level of rationalization ultimately subsumed those "culture makers" themselves. (He briefly illustrates how this animus was turned toward women in helping to define what white men were not.) He connects the ascendency of technical rationalization to the rationalization employed by a religious ethic that stresses religious salvation through work and the suppression of natural instincts. His study is not accusatory; it is illustrative.
By use of diaries and works culled from the deepest annals of history, Professor Takaki points out and points to the vulnerability, ambivalence, befuddlement and powerlessness felt and experienced by the founding fathers, who looked to build a moral nation - one not mirroring the licentiousness and dissipation of Great Britain. The very mores, however, advanced by the founding fathers, in twisted and convoluted turns, gave rise to the very "profligacy" and "luxury" that threatened the infant nation. It is from this point forward where the Professor effectively links the oppression of black slavery to other forms of white racial animus experienced by those groups not labeled, or hesitantly so, as white and particularly male.
Joel Kovel's White Racism: A Psychohistory is both a good and interesting follow-up read.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
Takaki explores race and it relation to the economic intent of the majority. He uses people such as Thomas Jefferson, Dr. Rush, Roosevelt, and others to illustrate differing ideas in dealing with the race problems. Excelent book for those who want to understand where racist ideals originated from and how these same ideals are still played out today.
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13 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Margaret C. Farrell on March 26, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was privileged to be Ronald Takaki's student at the University of California, Berkeley when he was completing his research on this insightful, wonderfully enlightening work. The course he taught from his research was the most meaningful, stimulating, truly inspirational I have taken in my many years as a student. Dr. Takaki is not only intellectually incandescent, but is a profoundly humane and compassionate man. As a high school social studies teacher, I have included Dr. Takaki's premises and conclusions in every class I teach and never fail to see the same sort of epiphanies in my students that I, myself, experienced. Dr. Takaki makes entirely comprehensible the paradigm of racism, sexism and elitism which has so long prevailed in our society; and his observations are as pertinent and contemporary today as they were a quarter of a century ago. A marvelous book!
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Iron Cages : Race and Culture in 19th-Century America
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