Roots Too: White Ethnic Revival in Post-Civil Rights America

Roots Too: White Ethnic Revival in Post-Civil Rights America

by Matthew Frye Jacobson
     
 

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In the 1950s, america was seen as a vast melting pot in which white ethnic affiliations were on the wane and a common American identity was the norm. Yet by the 1970s, these white ethnics mobilized around a new version of the epic tale of plucky immigrants making their way in the New World through the sweat of their brow. Although this turn to ethnicity was for many

Overview

In the 1950s, america was seen as a vast melting pot in which white ethnic affiliations were on the wane and a common American identity was the norm. Yet by the 1970s, these white ethnics mobilized around a new version of the epic tale of plucky immigrants making their way in the New World through the sweat of their brow. Although this turn to ethnicity was for many an individual search for familial and psychological identity, Roots Too establishes a broader white social and political consensus arising in response to the political language of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements.

Editorial Reviews

History: Review of New Books

Given the current intensity of the immigration debate in the United States, perhaps no book could be more timely than Roots Too. In this exciting new study, leading immigration historian, Matthew Frye Jacobson, argues that the white ethnic revival of the late twentieth century was about more than the individual rediscovery of one's "roots"...Roots Too speaks to many audiences but will be of most interest to scholars of immigration and ethnicity or of late-twentieth-century American culture. For the former audience, it is among the most thought-provoking works in recent years and could potentially reshape the field.

— David J. La Vigne

Journal of American History

[A] tour de force.
— John D. Buenker

The Historian

The myth of Plymouth Rock has been replaced by the myth of Ellis Island; we understand ourselves as a nation of immigrants. This much has been broadly understood, and even exploited by moviemakers and politicians...But the origins of this development and its consequences for American racial and civic relations have not been as well explored. Roots Too fills this gap; it is an excellent introduction to discussions of contemporary American discourse on identity. Using a close and persuasive reading of historical, literary, cinematic, and political materials, Jacobson identifies the roots of this ethnic identification in civil rights-era black politics and considers its impact on liberal, conservative, and feminist politics.
— Cheryl Greenberg

Werner Sollors
How did American culture move away from an older assimilationist ideal toward a new celebration of the hyphen? In Roots Too, Matthew Jacobson has written a magisterial cultural history of the ethnic revival covering a vast array of topics, from Ellis Island to the Statue of Liberty, from Roots and Fiddler on the Roof to Rocky and The Godfather, and from neoconservatism to ethnic feminism.
David Roediger
As critically important as it is engaging, Roots Too impressively shows how thoroughly "Ellis Island" whiteness has remade nationalism in the U.S. in the last half century. Our views are both complicated and deepened by this brilliant work of retrieval and analysis.
Gary Y. Okihiro
Roots Too offers an unflinching analysis of how and why whites became ethnic during the Civil Rights, Third World, feminist, and queer movements. It is a work of enormous significance.
Donna R. Gabaccia
All readers will come away from this book with a deeper appreciation of how and why the immigrant saga has mattered so much in recent American politics.
History: Review of New Books - David J. La Vigne
Given the current intensity of the immigration debate in the United States, perhaps no book could be more timely than Roots Too. In this exciting new study, leading immigration historian, Matthew Frye Jacobson, argues that the white ethnic revival of the late twentieth century was about more than the individual rediscovery of one's "roots"...Roots Too speaks to many audiences but will be of most interest to scholars of immigration and ethnicity or of late-twentieth-century American culture. For the former audience, it is among the most thought-provoking works in recent years and could potentially reshape the field.
Journal of American History - John D. Buenker
[A] tour de force.
The Historian - Cheryl Greenberg
The myth of Plymouth Rock has been replaced by the myth of Ellis Island; we understand ourselves as a nation of immigrants. This much has been broadly understood, and even exploited by moviemakers and politicians...But the origins of this development and its consequences for American racial and civic relations have not been as well explored. Roots Too fills this gap; it is an excellent introduction to discussions of contemporary American discourse on identity. Using a close and persuasive reading of historical, literary, cinematic, and political materials, Jacobson identifies the roots of this ethnic identification in civil rights-era black politics and considers its impact on liberal, conservative, and feminist politics.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674018983
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
01/15/2006
Pages:
496
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.60(d)

What People are saying about this

All readers will come away from this book with a deeper appreciation of how and why the immigrant saga has mattered so much in recent American politics.
Werner Sollors
How did American culture move away from an older assimilationist ideal toward a new celebration of the hyphen? In Roots Too, Matthew Jacobson has written a magisterial cultural history of the ethnic revival covering a vast array of topics, from Ellis Island to the Statue of Liberty, from Roots and Fiddler on the Roof to Rocky and The Godfather, and from neoconservatism to ethnic feminism. --(Werner Sollors, author of Neither Black Nor White Yet Both)
Gary Y. Okihiro
Roots Too offers an unflinching analysis of how and why whites became ethnic during the Civil Rights, Third World, feminist, and queer movements. It is a work of enormous significance.
Gary Y. Okihiro, author of Common Ground: Reimagining American History
David Roediger
As critically important as it is engaging, Roots Too impressively shows how thoroughly "Ellis Island" whiteness has remade nationalism in the U.S. in the last half century. Our views are both complicated and deepened by this brilliant work of retrieval and analysis. --(David Roediger, author of Working Towards Whiteness: How America's Immigrants Become White. The Strange Journey from Ellis Island to the Suburbs)
Donna R. Gabaccia
All readers will come away from this book with a deeper appreciation of how and why the immigrant saga has mattered so much in recent American politics.
Donna R. Gabaccia, Professor of History, University of Minnesota

Meet the Author

Matthew Frye Jacobson is Professor of American Studies at Yale University.

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