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Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone will learn something from reading this book., June 1, 2011
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This review is from: 30 Days of Race (Kindle Edition)
This book achieves a remarkable balance between education and entertainment. The central premise is fascinating - Mitchell essentially performs "field research" by deciding to approach strangers in the street and strike up a conversation on questions of race such as "do we focus too much on race in this country", "are white people inherently racist", "is there such a thing as race" and "what is to be done about racism". The variety of responses from a variety of ages, races and genders makes compelling reading.

Interspersed between these accounts of what strangers have to say to (an obviously personable) young black male stranger are reports of research into questions such as the biological basis of race (there is none), unconscious prejudice and such like. These more academic accounts do not interfere with the fascinating reportage of opinion but rather enhance the reading by providing background science that clarifies the validity of some of the opinions expressed and serves to pose further questions to be answered. The most compelling aspect of this book though is the curiosity it inspires about what the people approached have to say about the subject. Mitchell is extremely deft at drawing pen portraits of his respondents and describing the nature of their encounter in a manner that makes you feel as if you're almost eavesdropping on the interaction.

The only misgivings I have about Mitchell's account is that I suspect that he was somewhat holding himself back in presenting his material - I suspect that there are many more angry and bitter black people than are depicted here, I suspect that there are many more ignorant and malicious white people than are depicted here. This begs the question of whether it is possible for different races to have a truly honest dialogue.

However Mitchell has taken an enormous step in opening up that dialogue in a refreshing and humane manner and it is to his credit as a gentle, non-intrusive interviewer that he got so many surprisingly honest responses from such a diversity of people. Many of his respondents comment that this is the first time they've really talked about such matters, for many readers I'm sure it will be the first time they've really thought about such matters. One thing I noted was that many whites opined that "things are getting better", I don't think any blacks, latinos/hispanics or asians opined a similar sentiment and one thing that comes across to this white reader is how grindingly exhausting it must be for non-whites to be forced to continually evaluate the smallest and largest of their social interactions for what effect their race may have had on it.

I would be fascinated to know what people of different races learned from this book, as there is much to learn for everybody. Buy this book, it will make you think but I promise it won't hurt.

In terms of writing style and professionalism in all aspects of presentation I would rate this as indistinguishable from a traditionally published book.
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Alina
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Location: Australia

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