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The Racist Mind: Portraits of American Neo-Nazis and Klansmen Paperback – July 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (July 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140234497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140234497
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,341,854 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite his somewhat diffuse fieldwork, University of Michigan psychology professor Ezekiel offers some solid sociological and psychological insights into the character of contemporary American hate groups and their members. First, he describes the hostility?especially toward him, a Jew?and the chilling illogic he observed at a Klan rally and an Aryan Nations gathering. He then portrays three national leaders?Tom Metzger, of the White Aryan Resistance; Dave Holland, of Southern White Knights; and Richard Butler, Aryan Nations?observing that they and their groups have less to do with action than with venting feelings of victimization. Men like Metzger, argues Ezekiel, are charismatic loners manipulating their "small world." He then offers extensive profiles of the angry, sad and often pathetic members of a Detroit neo-Nazi group?poor whites in a majority-black city whose racial fears differentiate them from national groups that mainly demonize "the Jew." Most of these men, Ezekiel notes, lost a parent when they were young, and they grew up vulnerable and disconnected. The author doesn't divorce such racism from the country's troubled racial climate, but he suggests that teens can be diverted from such militancy via "mentorship and constructive alternatives."
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Fodder for exploitative talk shows and worst-case civil liberties debates, organized racists get more press than their actual influence probably deserves. Ezekiel's entry into a crowded field is an outstanding study of those who join and lead American hate groups. The approach is straightforward and surprisingly novel. Mostly, Ezekiel simply lets Klansmen and neo-Nazis talk about their lives and how they came to have their views. Jewish psychology professor Ezekiel clearly abhors those views but portrays their speakers in engrossing depth. The most powerful chapters trace how the ignorance common to the members of a small-time neo-Nazi group stems from their own poverty, poor education, dysfunctional families, and, in some cases, medical disabilities. Although the rhetoric of one man in particular should infuriate any reader of conscience, his matter-of-fact discussion of being abused as a child and the removal of half his liver ultimately evokes more pity than outrage. "Effective action to combat racism requires honest inquiry," Ezekiel says, and it's about time somebody completed a study in this direction. Aaron Cohen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Todd Blodgett on December 31, 2012
Format: Paperback
Professor Ezekiel has written an extremely informative and objective, book. 'The Racist Mind' gets right at the heart of what makes such hateful individuals tick. From the dysfunctional families most racists come from, to their view of themselves as being "left out" of the loop, and how many are marginalized by today's society - which they unfairly, and consistently, blame on those they detest. Having dealt directly with 'Reverend' Richard Butler, and Tom Metzger in my capacity as a full-time, paid FBI informant, infiltrating/surveiling white supremacists, holocaust deniers, and professional racists, violent Skinheads, etc., I can state unequivocally that Raphael Ezekiel's book hits the nail straight on the head. It's as truthful as it is sobering, and it offers valuable insights for straightening these problems out before more innocent people are harmed. I highly recommend this work to anyone who seeks bona fide information about the world of American and European hatred.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By King of New England on March 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
When I first picked up this book, I was hoping for more of an objective look, via interviews, at what kind of person the far-right "white power" movement attracts, and also why they are attracted to the movement. Unfortunately, while Ezekiel does provide some of that insight, it is too often tainted by his own opinions. He goes to great lengths to disparage these people and the movement. While I don't condone the movement at all, I was hoping for more of an objective look at it.

Various techniques used by Ezekiel include responding to the arguments and comments of the interviewee within the context of the book. For instance, they will make some remark about Jews always feeling sorry for themselves. Rather than respond in the interview, Ezekiel will add his rebuttal into the book itself, after the interview, thereby denying the chance for the person to respond. Also, using the same example, Ezekiel will criticize a member for their stereotypical remarks, and then include a line in the book to the effect of, "I don't think Jews feel sorry for themselves. I think we actually are very empathetic." In both his use of the word, "we", and attributing empathy to all Jewish people, he is doing exactly what the interviewee did---namely, attributing one characteristic to an entire group of people. But because it's a compliment and Ezekiel is Jewish, he feels that it's alright that he speak for an entire people.

I felt some of the book was worthwhile, especially his look at the background of the people that he interviewed, allowing for a better look at what may be the draw for these people to the movement. But due to the various flaws I mentioned above, I don't feel that the book wasn't so much a portrait of the racist mind, but a subjective look at people who I couldn't help but feel Ezekiel set up in order to arrive at his preconceived notions.
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18 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Jewell Dassance on October 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is among the most engaging books I have ever read. What courage Mr. Ezekiel demonstrated in gathering this important information about racists individuals and groups. His respect for those whose words, feeling and attitudes were dispicable and focused directly on his own people was remarkable. The book shed light on what motivates hate and related violence from racists. As an African American who grew up in the south prior to civil rights legislation, I have always been baffled by the intensity of hate these people feel toward African Americans and the violence directed to us. This is an informing book that should be read by anyone seeking to understand and address the issue of intolerance. After reading the Racist Mind, I am more convinced of the need for our country to make sure everyone. black and white, have an opportunity to be educated and empowered to participate in what this country has to offer. It shows the dangerous impact of ignorance.
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12 of 22 people found the following review helpful By hally@actcom.com.il on May 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book resonates. By painting intimate portraits of several insiders we are allowed an unprecedented proximity to this closed world. The author is careful never to judge his subjects thus confirming his own credibility. It is one of the most noteable books I have ever read and it has left it's indelible mark on me even 2 years after reading it. Bravo.
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