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Race And Culture: A World View Hardcover – July 13, 1994

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sowell ( Ethnic America ) draws on a worldwide range of examples and more than a decade of research in this intriguing exploration of the role of cultural attributes on group advancement. He aims to demonstrate the "reality, persistence, and consequences of cultural differences--contrary to many of today's grand theories based on the supposed dominant role of 'objective conditions,' 'economic forces' or 'social structures.' " He tackles a host of issues: the costs and benefits of residential segregation; how affirmative action primarily helps better-off members of preferred groups; how prominent political leaders are not crucial to group success; how low-scoring groups on intelligence tests do their worst on abstract questions devoid of "cultural bias." Sowell's observations have force, but he sometimes sacrifices depth for breadth. Although he claims to avoid policy prescriptions, he includes facile swipes against multiculturalism and argues, with varying degrees of plausibility, against liberal policies on race. Conservative Book Club selection.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Sowell, a black conservative and senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, moves beyond the domestic focus of his Ethnic America (LJ 6/1/81) to analyze the interplay between the cultural capital and social position of racial, ethnic, and religious minorities around the world. Observing ethnic and racial minorities migrating from country to country, Sowell postulates that existing intergroup cultural values play a predominate role in social status. These values determine which groups follow advances in science, technology, and organization, which fall behind, and which become societal leaders. Sowell concludes that the economic and social condition of many minorities lies not in social and political programs such as affirmative action but in the internal cultural values of the group. Sowell's study undoubtedly will arouse controversy and provoke debate. A valuable addition to minority studies collections in public and academic libraries alike.
Michael A. Lutes, Univ. of Notre Dame Lib., Ind.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (July 13, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465067964
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465067961
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thomas Sowell has taught economics at Cornell, UCLA, Amherst and other academic institutions, and his Basic Economics has been translated into six languages. He is currently a scholar in residence at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has published in both academic journals in such popular media as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes magazine and Fortune, and writes a syndicated column that appears in newspapers across the country.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

100 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Christopher A. Smith on May 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
Race and Culture" would more accurately be titled "Culture and Race". The book is a masterful treatment of cultural differences worldwide and how they have directed the course that our world's societies have taken. Race (the hot-button) get's a less extensive treatment.
On this topic of race, the book is most provocative in Sowell's chapter "Race and Intelligence". Sowell is clear in his analysis and the reader comes away feeling that he has presented a balanced set of findings. Sowell is careful with his assumptions; he extensively reports the results of IQ tests worldwide without going so far as to suggest that these tests actually measure innate intellectual ability. Although he unflinchingly points to differences which fall along racial lines, he also points to the fact that these test scores change over time (dramatically in some cases, with some American immigrant groups acquiring 18 points of IQ as their racial group assimilated into American culture and the academic tradition.)
Differences in test scores, therefore, are presented as differences in performance. It is undeniable that some groups, such as African Americans, consistently score lower on certain standardized tests. It takes a balanced look at all the data to understand why. As an African American who is interested in such issues, I came away feeling that Sowell had not ducked the hard issues, considered all of the evidence, and reached valid conclusions.
At the end of the day it is clear that Sowell is an economist; one can almost see supply and demand curves superimposed on the page behind the wording. If there is a flaw in the book it is that his academic viewpoint as an economist skews his view of human nature.
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59 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Günther Miklitz on June 15, 1998
Format: Paperback
Thomas Sowell, a black senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University has aroused much controversy with his 329 page-long book on race and culture. His thesis runs contrary to most current trends in social sciences. And it seems incompatible with most assumptions underlying government policies and established academic notions with regard to racial and ethnic minorities.
Sowell's thesis maintains that differences in productive skills and cultural values are the key to understanding the advancement or regression of ethnic groups. In his opinion, skills and values make up the cultural capital of an ethnic group or of a people, whereas politics, environmental factors and genetics do not play the important roles widely attributed to the success of a group or nation.
Since Sowell's central topic is the universe of values, the reader will easily accept the general layout of his book: a world view. In order to make his universal perspective convincing, Sowell pays his respect to a one page long list of scholars world wide from whose wisdom he has been able to draw.
What is the result of Sowell's approach to "Race and Culture"? We learn that certain peoples have been more or similarly successful than others because of their human capital, their particular pattern of cultural values which enabled them to perform better than others. The Jews are said to have prospered wherever they went in the world because they were experts in the textile business. Italian immigrants we! re often similarly successful in the field of wine production. The Germans are said to have always been successful farmers and craftsmen, and the Chinese succeed everywhere as retailers and restaurant owners.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By SUPPORT THE ASPCA. on January 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
Mr. Sowell is an erudite scholar. He presents his no excuse thesis with logic, research, and a keen instinct for interpreting human behavior. Historical facts illuminate every point." The distorting censorship of political correctness thankfully was not found here." Every factor is brought in, climate, geography, cultural norms, etc. That all these things play a role in the successes and failures of both the individual and the group,is proven beyond doubt in this seminal book. This should be required reading in all of our schools.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By southpaw68 VINE VOICE on April 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
The book explains that culture has a lot to do with racial and ethnic differences and groups often retain their characteristics wherever they go in the world. For example, the Irish are often heavily involved in politics as leaders especially, the Italians have been known to be great architects, the Germans are known to be hard-working farmers, and the Jews are known to high risk loan lenders and also garmet/fashion employees.
The book also covers middleman minorities such as oversees Chinese in Malaysia, Indians in Eastern Africa, and Jews worldwide. It explains why such minorities are resented for their financial success in whatever country they set up shop in and how they get kicked out of the country sometimes even though they greatly helped build the economy. They get accused of exploiting the natives and political pressure is put on them to hire the natives in their industry. Sowell gives the example of Jews who charge high interest for their loans because no one else will take chances on people with poor credit history and who stand a great chance of defaulting on a loan. The Jews must be financially responsible to keep their loan business going so they don't mix too much socially with their customers so as not to take on their bad financial habits.
Cultures and ethnic groups that were once backwards become advanced over time especially if they are conquered by a people with a superior culture. Sowell gives the example of the ancient Britons who were conquered by the Romans and became more advanced culturally than the Irish or Scots who were not conquered.
Sowell also explains that a region must have navigable rivers or or be located on the coastline to be advanced culturally.
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