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The Fifth Freedom: Jobs, Politics, and Civil Rights in the United States, 1941-1972 (Princeton Studies in American Politics: Historical, International, and Comparative Perspectives) 1St Edition Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0691139531
ISBN-10: 0691139539
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Editorial Reviews


Co-Winner of the 2010 Gladys M. Kammerer Award, American Political Science Association

Co-Winner of the 2010 J. David Greenstone Award in the Politics and History section by the American Political Science Association

Winner of the 2010 Best Book Award, Race, Ethnicity and Politics section of the American Political Science Association

Winner of the 2008 President's Book Award, Social Science History Association

"This meticulously researched book makes a bold new contribution to the literature on the origins of affirmative action. . . . [T]he book is well written . . . a valuable contribution to the literature."--Paul Moreno, Journal of American History

"[T]he main narrative of the book, grounded in extensive research and reading on mid-twentieth-century politics, makes a valuable contribution to the growing literature on the opposition to civil rights and its link to modern American conservatism."--Tracy E. K'Meyer, Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"The Fifth Freedom is a thoughtful and challenging book. The chapters on state antidiscrimination measures are illuminating accounts of grass-roots debates over the public policy of race in the North during the heyday of civil-rights activism in the South. Indeed, Chen makes a compelling case that the classic narrative of the postwar struggle for racial justice in the South has obscured the equally fierce, if less lethal, battle for employment rights that raged throughout the northern states during those years. . . . [A] valuable addition to the literature on the civil-rights era."--Robert H. Zieger, Business History Review

"The Fifth Freedom is a comprehensive, compelling account of affirmative action's development. Appropriate for graduate-level methods courses, where Chen's incisive use of quantitative models should prompt valuable discussion of scholarly approaches, this impressive contribution to scholarship on postwar US culture should be read by any student of twentieth-century America."--David Kieran, Journal of American Studies

"Fifth Freedom is a fine text (appropriate for most graduate courses), engagingly written, stunningly thorough, and certain to be integral to charting the trajectory for future research on affirmative action."--David Crockett, Journal of African American History

From the Back Cover

"The Fifth Freedom is a masterpiece--a brilliant new take on the history of equal opportunity in America. Chen combines the best traditions of history, sociology, and political science to explain the decades-long effort to bring equal protection to the workplace. This gripping account not only charts the long struggle against workplace discrimination, it explains the origins of our ineffectual system of enforcement."--Frank Dobbin, Harvard University

"Chen offers a distinctive and pathbreaking reinterpretation of civil rights law, from the perspective of the states and localities that were the crucibles of policy innovation. Methodologically sophisticated and deeply researched, The Fifth Freedom represents the best of interdisciplinary social science."--Thomas J. Sugrue, University of Pennsylvania

"This is an important, meticulously researched, and engagingly written contribution to our understanding of the origins and consequences of civil rights policies in employment. Chen's analysis highlights the early--and often overlooked--years of the civil rights era, and in so doing, vividly demonstrates both the possibilities and the readily apparent fault lines that continue to impact the politics surrounding efforts to remedy racial inequality."--Paul Frymer, Princeton University

"The Fifth Freedom is an important achievement of historical reconstruction, substantially revising our understanding of the civil rights revolution and the politics behind it. I have tremendous admiration for this book."--Robert C. Lieberman, author of Shaping Race Policy

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Product Details

  • Series: Princeton Studies in American Politics: Historical, International, and Comparative Perspectives
  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1St Edition edition (June 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691139539
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691139531
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,067,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Hugh Murray on March 21, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The war on whites continues with Prof. Chen's award-winning work. He and I skirmished in the pages of the Journal of American History several years ago. Now, reviewing his new book, I stress how Chen's ideology distorts his discussion of civil rights and employment.
Chen asserts that "few pieces of legislation enjoy more widespread approval than the Civil Rights Act of 1964". (Chen, p. 173) Yet, he understands that employment was not the issue that propelled the nation to enact the law. Civil rights had not been one of President Kennedy's urgent priorities. However, as pressure mounted in the early 1960s with the sit-ins and the Freedom Rides, President Kennedy was pushed to move on the issue. On 28 February 1963 in his special message to Congress on civil rights, Kennedy stressed that the American Constitution is color blind. Nevertheless, neither Kennedy's speech nor Black demands for more jobs would be the catalyst that would hurl civil rights legislation onto the Congressional agenda. It was Birmingham, where television exposed police who blasted young Black protestors with fire hoses and terrorized others with fang-baring dogs. And it was Birmingham where four young girls were bombed inside a church. It was Birmingham that propelled most Americans to accept the need for a civil rights law. (Chen, p. 180)

To promote that law, a massive march on Washington was mobilized for 28 August 1963, at which Martin Luther King's speech struck the cord that rang the freedom bell. That day it mesmerized many Americans; today, it's memorized by many throughout the world.
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The Fifth Freedom: Jobs, Politics, and Civil Rights in the United States, 1941-1972 (Princeton Studies in American Politics: Historical, International, and Comparative Perspectives)
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