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Open Wound: The Long View of Race in America Hardcover – March 9, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Evans (Ballots and Fence Rails) ranges from Spanish colonization in the New World to the economic disparities of the current century in this scholarly interpretation of how racial ideas have functioned to justify inequality in the U.S. Drawing heavily on Marxist theories and the political philosophy of Antonio Gramsci, the author dissects how society in early America was divided into two racial categories, where the mark dividing the haves from the have-nots was... color. He examines the overlapping history of class and race from the American Revolution through the Civil War, but as the book nears the recent past, history is painted in large swaths, with the last half of the 20th century, including the civil rights movement, receiving scant attention. Evans's glancing look at neo-liberalism and contemporary ecological crises are downright confusing in this context, and nowhere near as explored (or explained) as the historical section of the book. While the prose is readable, the book draws heavily on political and economic theory; still, the tenacious reader will be treated to intriguing observations on the history of American race relations. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

Historian Evans critiques race in America, as reflected in our economic and political systems, from our nation’s origins through the present. The significance of race evolved from American slavery, from the planters’ hegemony, and from a southern worldview that was adopted throughout the nation. Slavery determined the context for valuing the purpose and worth of black people in the U.S. Poor whites bought into the racialized viewpoint, protecting rich planters by keeping blacks—slave and free—in check and ignoring the class interests that they shared with black people. Evans also highlights the substantial relationship between northern banking and commerce and the southern slavery system. Though this racial solidarity was periodically challenged, white domination persisted. However, for blacks, major improvement and advancement came during periods of national crisis, including the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and the cold war. Each of these periods offered opportunity to challenge the existing racial system. But any progress made was coupled with compromise, which continues to restrict equality. A penetrating look at the complicated history of race in America.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 1st Edition edition (March 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252034279
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252034275
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,019,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Over the last 40 years, I have read a large number of books on race relations and have taught the subject. I must begin by stating that OPEN WOUND: THE LONG VIEW OF RACE IN AMERICA is the clearest and most effective presentation in my experience. McKee Evans' presentation changed my thinking pattern. I feel that anyone who reads this fine book will have the same experience.

Overall two points can be made regarding the author's presentation:

1) OPEN WOUND's organization is reminiscent of James Burke's CONNECTIONS. Like Burke, McKee Evans' historical presentation is quasi chronological. The outcome of historical/sociological phenomena cannot be explained with simple bivariate causal linkages. A wide range of sociological and economic factors merge at a point in time to create social forces that induce racism. When a reader is able to understand these social forces, one gains a deeper appreciation into the nature of our current social structure. More importantly, the ability to comprehend the nature of our social structure is the soil for which social change exists. In many ways, OPEN WOUND provides a road map for creating greater racial harmony.

2) Burke's CONNECTIONS is linear. That is, progress toward a scientific outcome is unambiguously unidirectional. Various and unconnected scientific findings lead to our greater understanding of the world around us. As time progresses, we get better. This is NOT the picture created in OPEN WOUND. Unlike CONNECTIONS, each time racial progress is instituted, regression toward a worsening state emerges. However, unlike other authors that address race relations, McKee Evans provides the causal factors responsible for the regression.
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1 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey G. Thoreson on March 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is perhaps the worst book I've ever read. All McKee Evans does is ramble on and on, providing over 80 pages of endnotes since he's incapable of an original thought or idea. A book I was assigned as part of a class project, which is the only reason I suffered through this book. It's quite awful and I wouldn't recommend it to my worst enemy.
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