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Uneasy Alliances: Race and Party Competition in America (Princeton Studies in American Politics: Historical, International, and Comparative Perspectives) Paperback – September 5, 2010
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"The vast literature on American political parties has been immensely enriched and enhanced by this pioneering work on race and parties. . . .This is a highly recommended work."--Hanes Walton, Jr., Political Science Quarterly
"In a work that effectively challenges cherished notions of how the political system functions, Paul Frymer . . . shows the centrality of race in the American political process. In addition, he makes a strong theoretical contribution to our analysis of the functioning of political parties in democratic regimes. Uneasy Alliances will be a valuable resource for scholars and students alike, for both its substantive arguments and its theoretical achievements."--Howard L. Reiter, American Political Science Review
"Frymer makes a strong case that Democratic presidential candidates have distanced themselves from black voters and issues. . . . The villain in the tale is the United States electoral structure, the two-party, winner-take-all system."--Sandra Featherman, Journal of Politics
"Frymer argues that the failure to seriously address white racism's impact on the party system causes us to misunderstand how and why African Americans are and remain at the margins for reasons not related to their abilities and potential impact on the American political system."--Choice
From the Inside Flap
"Uneasy Alliances provides an excellent overview of the politics of race and sectional conflict that led to the development of the party system. It is an important contribution to the literature on party politics and African-American politics more broadly."--Carol M. Swain, Princeton University
"This is a bold, provocative book. . . . Scholars and activists will soon be talking about Frymer's argument and figuring out whether they agree or disagree. It's that kind of a book-hard to ignore."--Richard M. Valelly, Swarthmore College--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
"But speaking of Frymer, have you read the book of his assigned for [Professor X's] class? I thought it was pretty terrible. It starts with a plausible theoretical idea -- that of interest group 'capture' -- and then makes a mess of history in trying to apply it to American politics. My reaction to it was so adverse from the moment I started reading that I fear I may have missed out on its redeeming qualities, which it must have since [Professor X] assigned so much of it."
This quote still basically sums up my reaction to the book. Frymer wants to blame the two-party system for the oppression of African Americans in the U.S., but his argument is just not convincing. He takes an interesting idea ("capture") and tries to shoe-horn race relations in America into his theoretical framework. It doesn't fit. Blacks weren't oppressed because the parties colluded to shut out their political demands; they were oppressed because their demands for political and social equality were not supported by the vast majority of white Americans until well into the 20th century. It is the distribution of preferences in the American electorate that was to blame, not the structure of the party system. And it wasn't blacks' "capture" by the Republican Party that allowed their renewed oppression after Reconstruction; it was the fact that blacks were violently disfranchised in the South -- a outcome that was delayed until the end of the 19th century because of Republicans' partisan interest in safeguarding the voting rights of blacks, their strongest supporters in the region. There are similar logical (not to mention factual -- the book is full of factual errors) problems with Frymer's account of the civil rights era and beyond. In short, "Uneasy Alliances" makes a glib and superficially appealing argument, but it is fundamentally unconvincing to anyone with a thorough grasp of the history of race and politics in the United States. For a more convincing if somewhat less sweeping account of this topic, read Richard Valelly's The Two Reconstructions: The Struggle for Black Enfranchisement (American Politics and Political Economy Series) instead.