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The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America
The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America
by Nicholas Lemann
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.17
263 used & new from $0.01

18 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Underclass, February 8, 2000
In The Promised Land, Nicholas Lemann tells several interwoven tales. One is about Mississippi sharecroppers who migrated to Chicago during the middle decades of the century. Another is about the bungled policies of President Lyndon Johnson's "war on poverty." Binding them together is Mr. Lemann's attempt to understand why the United States has a black underclass that probably lives in greater squalor and desperation than any other people on earth. The book's perspective is the by now standard one that pins most of the blame for black failure on white racism, and it leads to a call for an "ambitious wave of new programs" that will bring the underclass into the American mainstream. Nevertheless, The Promised Land is by no means a simple rehash of the liberal clichés of the 1960s. Mr. Lemann does not gloss over the failures that stemmed from the soft-headed zeal for uplift that characterized the period. At the same time, his accounts of the lives of underclass blacks do not leave an impression of helplessness and victimization so much as one of fecklessness and self-destruction. The author coats his facts with a layer of liberal indulgence, but he has gathered the facts and they are not pretty.

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