Black Conservative Intellectuals in Modern America

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Overview

In Black Conservative Intellectuals in Modern America, Michael L. Ondaatje delves deeply into the historical archive to chronicle the origins of black conservatism in the United States from the early 1980s to the present. Focusing on three significant policy issues-affirmative action, welfare, and education-Ondaatje critically engages with the ideas of nine of the most influential black conservatives. He further documents how their ideas were received, both by white conservatives eager to capitalize on black support for their ideas and by activists on the left who too often sought to impugn the motives of black conservatives instead of challenging the merits of their claims. While Ondaatje's investigation uncovers the themes and issues that link these voices together, he debunks the myth of a monolithic black conservatism. Figures such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the Hoover Institution's Thomas Sowell and Shelby Steele, and cultural theorist John McWhorter emerge as individuals with their own distinct understandings of and relationships to the conservative political tradition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A splendid narrative of the rise of black conservative intellectuals who emerged into the public sphere with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. . . . A first-rate, evenhanded account of black conservatism that will likely be a pivotal work on the topic for years to come."—Journal of American History

"A splendid narrative of the rise of black conservative intellectuals who emerged into the public sphere with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. . . . A first-rate, evenhanded account of black conservatism that will likely be a pivotal work on the topic for years to come."—Journal of American History

"Michael Ondaatje has taken on a subject that few have written about so thoroughly and extensively, and his book makes a notable contribution to modern American intellectual history and race relations. He probes deeply into the thought of black conservative intellectuals, exploring their positions on such key racial issues as affirmative action, welfare policy, and public education. Applying rigorous critical analysis, he also documents their logical failures, intellectual inconsistencies, and suspect arguments."—Raymond A. Mohl, coeditor of The New African American Urban History

"A well-written and important piece of scholarship that aids considerably in historical understanding of black conservatism in particular and modern American conservatism in general."—Edward J. Blum, author of W. E. B. Du Bois, American Prophet

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812242065
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/18/2009
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael L. Ondaatje teaches American history at the University of Newcastle, Australia.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Profiles of an Intellectual Vanguard 25

2 Affirmative Action Dilemmas 55

3 Partisans of the Poor? 92

4 Visions of School Reform 125

Conclusion 155

Notes 157

Index 209

Acknowledgments 219

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