Richard Nixon and the Rise of Affirmative Action: The Pursuit of Racial Equality in an Era of Limits

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Overview

Richard Nixon is hardly remembered for his civil rights policies but there is no denying that, more than any other president, he is responsible for affirmative action. Noting Nixon's hostility towards busing, his political allegiances with segregationists, and the hostility of leading civil rights figures at the time, historians and political scientists have avoided explaining why the origins of modern affirmative action lie in the Nixon era.

In this enlightening and original new work, Kevin Yuill combines extensive archival research with a careful analysis of the intellectual climate of the era to examine not only the conditions that made Nixon's policy decisions possible in the 1970s but also what motivated Nixon to act in the way that he did. He argues that in order to fully understand why Nixon embraced affirmative action, one must fully take into account the shifting context of American liberalism in the 1970s. In particular, Yuill contends that although government-enforced affirmative action did not fit into the postwar, growth-oriented liberalism, it emerged as an important regulatory policy blueprint in an era increasingly characterized by diminished horizons for social policy. Nixon's efforts in moving the focus of U.S. race relations from reform to indemnifying damages, Yuill argues, at least equals his contribution to the origins of affirmative action through policy innovations.

Controversial and far-reaching, Richard Nixon and the Rise of Affirmative Action brings fresh research and a much-needed reinterpretation of a crucial yet still enigmatic period, president and policy.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of American History
An important book on racial politics and affirmative action during the Nixon administration.
Michigan Historical Review
In [Richard Nixon and the Rise of Affirmative Action] . . . Yuill enhances our understanding of this period and reminds us that there were other paths the nation might have taken, and may still take, in the struggle to end racism.
— Greta de Jong, University of Nevada, Reno
American Journal of Sociology
Yuill's book contains top-down analysis based on extensive research. . . . This is a book many professors will like and many others will shake their head over.
Journal Of American History
An important book on racial politics and affirmative action during the Nixon administration.
American Journal Of Sociology
Yuill's book contains top-down analysis based on extensive research. . . . This is a book many professors will like and many others will shake their head over.
Jonathan Bean
Richard Nixon and the Rise of Affirmative Action is a well-written, scrupulously researched book that makes an important contribution to our understanding of civil rights in the post-1968 era. While book shelves bulge with works on Richard Nixon and civil rights, this book is unique in extending Nixon's importance to today's social and political scene. As Yuill makes abundantly clear, Nixon's shadow still hangs over America, for better or worse.
Hamilton Cravens
Kevin Yuill's new book, Richard Nixon and the Rise of Affirmative Action, is a tour de force of research, interpretation, and perspective, offering a tough, unblinking assessment of a highly controversial public policy by a highly controversial president. It will help guide scholarly and political arguments on affirmative action for some time to come.
Michigan Historical Review - Greta de Jong
In [Richard Nixon and the Rise of Affirmative Action] . . . Yuill enhances our understanding of this period and reminds us that there were other paths the nation might have taken, and may still take, in the struggle to end racism.
Desmond King
Kevin L. Yuill’s new book, Richard Nixon and the Rise of Affirmative Action, is an important contribution to the scholarly literature on race equality and affirmative action. Yuill provides the most comprehensive and thorough discussion available to date of how the Nixon administration became a pioneer of positive discrimination. Demonstrating a mastery of relevant primary and secondary sources, Yuill addresses the unexpected significance of the Nixon presidency both for contemporary affirmative action policy and for identity politics in the U.S., concluding that the evolution of affirmative action has undermined progress toward race equality in America. Yuill’s thought provoking and engaged book will be of wide interest to students and scholars of U.S. politics.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742549982
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/28/2006
  • Series: American Intellectual Culture Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 7.46 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Kevin Yuill is senior lecturer in American studies at Sunderland University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: "An Almost Hopeless Holding Action"
Part I: From Myrdal to the Kerner Commission: The Rise and Fall of Barriers to Affirmative Action in the Postwar Period
Chapter 1: The Postwar Intellectual Milieu and the Taboo Against Affirmative Action
Chapter 2: Letting Sleeping Dogs Lie: Policymaking and Affirmative Action Before Nixon
Chapter 3: The Liberal Crisis, 1965–1969
Chapter 4: Legitimation Crisis
Chapter 5: Affirmative Action: The Conservative Option
Part II: Richard Nixon: Liberal Anti-Hero
Chapter 6: The Genius of Deflation
Chapter 7: The Philadelphia Plan
Chapter 8: Revenue Sharing and Other Affirmative Actions
Part III: Affirmative Action and the New Liberalism
Chapter 9: Affirmative Action in an Age of Limits
Chapter 10: Nixon: The Father of Identity Politics
Conclusion
Bibliography

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