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Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America Hardcover – March 17, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
In the early 1950s, Mark Satter opened his law practice in the Chicago suburb of Lawndale, but his life's work really began in 1957, the day a black couple, Albert and Sallie Bolton, walked through his doors needing a stay on an eviction from a home they had just purchased. Satter uncovered a citywide scheme, in which landlords sold African-Americans overpriced homes, keeping the titles until black homeowners paid them off, while charging excessive interest rates to insure they never could. Called contract selling, the practice cost thousands of migrating blacks their livelihoods. Mark Satter died of a heart condition eight years after the Boltons crossed his threshold, but nearly 50 years later, his daughter, Beryl, a history professor at Rutgers, picked up where he left off. Setting out to prove that the decline of black neighborhoods into slums had nothing to do with the absence of African-American resources and everything to do with subjugation and greed, Satter draws on her father's records to piece together a thoughtful and very personal account of the exploitation that kept blacks segregated and impoverished. (Mar.)
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"Beryl Satter's Family Properties is really an incredible book. It is, by far, the best book I've ever read on the relationship between blacks and Jews. That's because it hones in on the relationship between one specific black community and one specific Jewish community and thus revels in the particular humanity of all its actors. In going small, it ultimately goes big."
—Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic
“This is rich material… Satter balances personal stories, including moments of great bravery, with painstaking legal and historical research. Family Properties is transfixing from the first sentence. The pleasures here are deep and resonate ones… an instant classic.”
—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
—David Garrow, The Washington Post
—The New York Times Book Review
—Ira Katznelson, author of When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold Story of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America
—Thomas J. Sugrue, author of Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North
—David Quammen, author of Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinction
“This is how the story of urban America after the Second World War ought to be written, with gritty realism and no illusions. Here is urban history as a drama of moral conflict and religious passion. Family Properties is a searing and deeply moving work, by a loving daughter and a great historian.”
—Robert Orsi, Professor of Religion and History, Northwestern University
—Kenneth T. Jackson, Barzun Professor of History, Columbia University
Top customer reviews
I would have liked to see more discussion of the impact of the history and it's relation to the modern subprime mortgage crisis. The author touched on it but I would have liked a bit more discussion on that as that is a complex historical connection. Starting that conversation and simply concluding it was a teaser into the area.