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White Racism: A Psychohistory Paperback – May 6, 1984

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Kovel's book is a mind-blower, a serious attempt to grapple with racism simultaneously on historical and psychological levels, incorporating a concise and readable history of the specific human relation called 'white racism' by a perceptive culling of many different sources.

(Telos)

A brilliant book, admirably and provocatively written....Books on 'race' are legion, but they are seldom as original and interesting as Joel Kovel's book....very much worth reading for the many insights it provides into the depths of a profound human tragedy.

(Ashley Montagu)

A singularly impressive and well written book.

(The New York Times)

About the Author

Joel Kovel is Distinguished Professor of Social Studies at Bard College.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 301 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (April 15, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231057970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231057974
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #963,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This is a profound and disturbing book, relying on Freud's theory to describe and explain a civilization built on a fixation that expresses itself in racism as much as in the tendency to build skyscrapers and limitless finance markets, while devaluing all that is human, spontaneous, sensual, or emotional. Kovel takes us through the beginnings of racism as it has underlain European history, through antisemitism and up through the Old South with its straightforward bigotry, and then on to our present world of a rationalized society that, seemingly without human intention, systematically discards and marginalizes people of color. Kovel shows that Puritanism is alive and well in many forms taken for granted in Western society today, whether credit card numbers, skyscrapers, bleach, or nuclear weapons.

This book requires guts and heart to read in its entirety, and might leave one either depressed or determined to nurture all that is sensual, humane, and alive in our world. White Racism: A Psychohistory is indispensible to anyone truly interested in understanding the psychological underpinnings of Western culture, and appears to have been the beginning of Kovel's courageous and lifelong mission to understand other Western - and in one case, uniquely American - cultural phenomena that are rooted in twin commitments to the eradication of life and the acquisition of property.
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Kovel provides an excellent account of the psychoanalytic basis of racism. He predicted the "racism without racists" of the supposedly post-racial Obama era.
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