Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Nigger - The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word 1st Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0375421723
ISBN-10: 0375421726
Why is ISBN important?
ISBN
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy used
$9.25
Condition: Used - Good
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Item is in good condition. May include some wear and creases on the cover. Fast shipping. Free delivery confirmation with every order.
Access codes and supplements are not guaranteed with used items.
89 Used from $0.01
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
More Buying Choices
16 New from $2.03 89 Used from $0.01 2 Collectible from $9.85
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Prime Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student


Get a FREE Amazon Echo with The Princeton Review
Subscribe to the Self-Paced Study Course for ACT and prep whenever you want. Learn more
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Nigger is Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy's ornate, lively monograph on what he calls the "paradigmatic" racial slur in the English language. A neutral noun in the 17th century, nigger had, by 1830, become an "influential" insult. Kennedy traces the word's history in literature, song, film, politics, sports, everyday speech, and the courtroom. He also discusses its plastic, contradictory, and volatile place in contemporary American society. Should it be eradicated from dictionaries and the language? Should it be, somehow, regulated? What is the significance of its emergence among some blacks as a term with "undertones of warmth and good will"? Do blacks have a historical right to its use or does that place the term under a "protectionist pall"? With courage and grave measure Kennedy has, in effect, created a forum for discussion of the word he calls a "reminder of the ironies and dilemmas, the tragedies and glories, of the American experience." --H. O'Billovitch

From Publishers Weekly

The word is paradigmatically ugly, racist and inflammatory. But is it different when Ice Cube uses it in a song than when, during the O.J. Simpson trial, Mark Fuhrman was accused of saying it? What about when Lenny Bruce uses it to "defang" it by sheer repetition? Or when Mark Twain uses it in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to make an antiracist statement? Kennedy, a professor at Harvard Law School and noted legal scholar, has produced an insightful and highly provocative book that raises vital questions about the relationship between language, politics, social norms and how society and culture confront racism. Drawing on a wide range of historical, legal and cultural instances Harry S. Truman calling Adam Clayton Powell "that damned nigger preacher"; Title VII court cases in which the use of the word was proof of condoning a "racially hostile work environment"; Quentin Tarantino's liberal use of the word in his films Kennedy repeatedly shows not only the complicated cultural history of the word, but how its meaning, intent and even substance change in context. Smart, well argued and never afraid of facing serious, difficult and painful questions in an unflinching and unsentimental manner, this is an important work of cultural and political criticism. As Kennedy notes in closing: "For bad or for good, nigger is... destined to remain with us for the foreseeable future a reminder of the ironies and dilemmas, the tragedies and glories, of the American experience." (Jan. 22)Forecast: This may be the book that reignites larger debates over race eclipsed by September 11. Look for a bestselling run and huge talk show and magazine coverage as the Afghanistan news cycle continues to slow; the book had already been the subject of two New York Times stories by early January.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1 edition (January 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375421726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375421723
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #254,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Cheryl D. Fields on March 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As someone who has spent nearly a decade writing about race relations in the U.S., I couldn't read this book fast enough.
Kennedy offers a well-timed examination of a word that appears to be experiencing a revival of public usage. I didn't agree with all of his conclusions, but the book certainly provokes critical thought. I especially appreciated the section that lays out how the word has been considered by the U.S. courts.
This book should be mandatory reading for all Americans. It is a worthy addition to any to high school or college social studies syllabus, and a good choice for book clubs that welcome heated debate.
Comment 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
If the question is scholarship and clarity, no fault can be found with Randall Kennedy's [N-word]: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word. And if that is so, what makes Kennedy's book so ultimately unsatisfying? Perhaps it is the sense that Kennedy, who is eternally fair-minded (at times, perhaps, even to a fault), never quite seems to get his arms entirely around his topic. Indeed, if Kennedy is always rational in pronouncing his phlegmatic judgments on various famous and infamous uses of the "troublesome" word, the fact is that his reasons for considering one episode defensible and identifying another as certifiably hateful and racist are not entirely coherent. To say it another way, if the reader were to ask Kennedy to define when, by whom, and under what circumstances "[N-word]" can be deployed legitimately, it is doubtful that he could express a practical philosophy, even in the broadest of terms. Or to put the matter in still other words, Kennedy is just like many of the rest of us: appalled by the use of the word in contexts in which it is clearly intended to injure, more than occasionally troubled by its prevalence in everyday discourse, ambivalent about its modern-day dispersal as a (quite literal) shibboleth, and intellectually muddled over how to confront the word in its undeniable position as both linguistic fingerprint and American literary instrument. But if that is the case, what purpose does Kennedy's book actually serve?Read more ›
3 Comments 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
What I expected was some sort of "Angry black man' book. What was interesting is that he let the facts speak for themselves; keeping a lot of his personal views out of it. His writing style definitely revealed a bad taste in his mouth but he kept true to why he was writing this. I read this cover to cover (repeating a chapter or 4) with in a week. Normally I read 3 books at a time but this one demanded my attention. I read that a lot of people find this book inadequate. If they want to think so - fine. However, no single 208 page book is going to be able to nail this subject down perfectly. He had made his point profoundly and left a person wanting more; which is a sign of a good author.
Comment 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
I decided to buy this book after seeing it on 60 minutes and Boston Public. I must admit that I had to buy this book on Amazon because I am white and I didn't feel comfortable buying a book with such a racially charged word as the title. None the less I am glad I bought this book. I will admit that when it comes to African American history I am pretty ignorant and this book helped rid me of some of the ignorance. I am not a racist person but I really need to learn more about African American culture. I was brought up in an almost all white area and many people in my family have racist views. This book gave me a look in a society that I would not have normally seen... I really recommend this book to any one of any race in any country.
Comment 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
I learned of this amazing work from an interview with the author on National Public Radio while driving home. Couldn't get to a computer fast enough and logon to ... to order it.
I had no idea why this word is so bad. Now I do. Oh, my God! The author brought back memories of the horrible things done to blacks. He made it clear why this word is said only to harm and hurt. His presentation was like cold water dumped on me - I forgot what it was like in the south when I was a kid.
People get fired from jobs for saying it, sued, and worse! I am grateful to the author for a much needed and overdue book on this topic. Those of us in media and law desperately need this!
Everyone should be made aware that the N-word is a HATE word. It is meant only to injure a human being.
Interestingly, Kennedy trapped me with pages of N-word jokes from a KKKomedy web site. He makes it easy to see how seductive it is to laugh at these jokes. That is sobering in itself. His writing is so clear, easy to follow, and illuminating - a Rhodes Scholar, indeed! Bravo Kennedy! A perfect little book about a huge problem. Well done.
Comment 36 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr. Randall Kennedy is a proffesor and historian at Harvard University and his book on the history of the most inflamatory word in the English language is a brilliant study on America, race relations and how clear it is that human rights is still America's greatest challenge.
The word is so inflamatory that the editorial computers at Amazon Vine will not publish this review if I mention the title. Kennedy addresses the use of the word in Rap music, among the African American community as well as it's early uses centuries ago and how slavery has made it far worse than other racial slurs.
The book is not at all dull. One might expect a Harvard dissertation but that's not at all the case, whether he is discussing Jim Crow or Tupac. The end result is a book that everyone must read and no one will be sorry he did.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Pages with Related Products. See and discover other items: cultural history