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White Supremacy: A Comparative Study of American and South African History [Paperback]

by George M. Fredrickson
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 4, 1982 0195030427 978-0195030426
The history of race relations on two continents is enormously enriched by this comparative study

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White Supremacy: A Comparative Study of American and South African History + South Africa: The Rise and Fall of Apartheid (Seminar Studies)
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Editorial Reviews


"The history of race relations on two continents is enormously enriched by this comparative study."--C. Vann Woodward, Yale University

"A stunning work, Fredrickson's book is the most important study--by far--of race relations written in our time."--Herbert Gutman

"One of the most brilliant and successful studies in comparative history ever written...sheds new light on the entire sweep of American and South African history."--David Brion Davis, The New York Times Book Review

"Thorough and interesting. Valuable background for my students."--Darcy James, Lewis Clark State College

"Sophisticated, well-focused, and accessible. . . . provides exactly the context I need for a course in Apartheid."--Judiana Lawrence, St. John Fisher College

About the Author

George M. Fredrickson is at Edgar A. Robinson Professor of United States History.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (February 4, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195030427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195030426
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #391,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "white Supremacy" provides critical insight and analysis December 24, 1998
By A Customer
This is a seminal study which compares the development of white supremacy in Southern Africa and North America. It is well researched and provides the reader with an insightful analysis into race relations in these two regions. Although the book was published in 1982, the analysis continues to be current and essential to those readers who wish to understand the historic context of this important subject.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic June 11, 2013
"White Supremacy" is a classic essay on race relations in South Africa and the U.S., from colonial times to the mid-20th century. In theory, the book is a "comparative history" (whatever that means). In reality, it reads more like two parallel histories, with much jumping back and forth, and some of the comparisons of South African and American experiences are strained (such as the treatment of industrialization). Nevertheless, just about every page is packed with ideas that illuminate fundamental issues in U.S. and South African history. It's great.

I took off one star for two reasons: First, the analysis is drawn from secondary sources and presented at a high level of abstraction, like sociology rather than history. History fans looking for human color or telling details will be disappointed. Second, the author devotes as much attention to South Africa's relatively small mixed-race "Coloured" community as he does to the much larger black African population. He may have done so because of the difficulty in making meaningful comparisons between the experiences of traditional rural Africans and those of American blacks who were closely linked to whites from the first days of slavery. In contrast, 20th century Coloureds in Western Cape had much in common with American blacks struggling against Jim Crow and disenfranchisement. But while comparisons between blacks and Coloureds are meaningful, they leave out a big chunk of South African history.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars remarkable achievement May 18, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
To label this work "comparative history," as does the author, is to understate the matter considerably. The book is a careful, scholarly comparative analysis of all the important questions (most of which you've never thought of!) related to the origins, nature, and development of white supremacy in the US and SA. Remarkably, it is superbly well written--clear as glass, with no jargon, aiming only to express, never to impress. As a side note, I can't get over this one little fact: the book was written before database software. What does that mean? HE USED PAPER NOTES--they must have filed multiple file cabinets. Yet, his the organization of the sources, his commentary on them, their relevance and conciseness are all stunning. The author mastered two immense literatures, one in Afrikaans, and evaluates them judiciously and carefully, never scoring cheap points or parading his own work--he strictly presents (and often modifies) the best social-scientific hypotheses of the last 100-or-so years. I just can't get over how impressive this book is. Consider reading with Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Whiteness In A Nutshell February 9, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
White supremacy has evolved quite a bit over the past few centuries, but the end result is always the same (whites benefit, non-whites suffer). This book is a very detailed and informative look into the gradual development of white supremacy through it's various stages (religious, scientific, biological) and the links American's insipid past with South Africa and even makes the connection between what the British did to the Irish (before racism) and how it was kind of a precursor to what Europeans did to the American Indians. From how white dealt with indigenes of countries they colonized to race mixing to segregation and labor, this book hits I didn't have much knowledge about South African history (prior to Nelson Mandela), so this book really opened my eyes to all the similar methods whites have used worldwide to maintain dominance over non-whites. I didn't even know slavery existed in South Africa and that they shipped in slaves from East Asia. The book explores how whites used interracial sex and half breeds in South Africa to control the other slaves and how whites allowed them to assimilate into their white culture (a warning to all you who promote interracial sex today). I really seek works that help me understand better how whites people think and reading something like this and picking up on all the patterns of behavior by whites and their constant rationalization of their evils (til this day), this book is invaluable as a reminder that I am a victim of white supremacy and their global white empire is an umbrella hanging over my head everyday of my life. It's not comforting, but it's true and knowing that is the first step in improving my health as a victim.
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5 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good stuff June 11, 2000
By A Customer
i am currently taking a comparative study course on new world slavery, and this book interested me. i enjoyed this book.
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