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The term cleansingused in relation to groups of people has come to convey an ugly reality Americans usually associate with distant places. Here, however, Pulitzer Prize-winning Cox Newspapers editor Jaspin dredges up the ugly reality of white Americans, from the late 1860s through the 1930s,"cleansing" their living and working spaces to make them white-only enclaves. Using census data, Jaspin reveals a whiting-out pattern in about one in 12 of the 3100 U.S. counties. Beyond statistics, he re-creates the stories of rural towns, villages, and whole counties emptying themselves of blacks. He shows vigilantes at work, but more than mobs made this unsavory history. In everyday community activities, whites worked to drive blacks out, and keep them out, of their American dream. Jaspin gives context to accounts of whites destroying single black communities, such as Alfred L. Brophy's excellent Reconstructing the Dreamland, about the 1921 Greenwood district of Tulsa, OK, or the various treatments of Rosewood, FL, in 1922. Critics will quibble about whites' motives, but Jaspin's facts are dauntingly indisputable. Essential for collections on modern America, local history, and U.S. race relations.
—Thomas J. Davis