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In this fascinating book, Jacobson traces the development of racial identity in America. Between the 1840s and the 1920s, racial differences and hierarchy between Anglo-Saxons and other white ethnic groups were given great significance. "White ethnics" were generally considered as distinct and inferior to the original Anglo Saxon immigrants...[Whiteness of a Different Color] explodes the myth of the American melting pot. Jacobson demonstrates how white racial inclusion was inextricably linked with the exclusion of non-whites and, interestingly, how their widely-recognised whiteness is partly due to the presence of non-white groups...This is a thought-provoking account of an often overlooked topic.
— Claire Xanthos
Whiteness of a Different Color tells us about the varying, and inevitably failing, attempts to come to terms with the concept of "whiteness", which, despite its vicissitude and inconclusiveness, was, and still is, one of the most important notions in American political culture...True to his "identities" as historian and American Studies scholar, Jacobson's sources are tremendously varied, ranging from novels, films, print journals, to legal records, colonial charters, and state constitutions...The book's argument is most convincing.
— Christiane Harzig
[Matthew Frye Jacobson's] analysis of the European immigrant experiences, American racial classifications and "their fluidity over time" is a valuable addition to the flourishing genre of "whiteness studies" in the fields of labour and working-class history...Racial categories and perceptions, Jacobson argues, are cultural and political fabrications, reflections of power relationships in a society that has periodically needed to construct (and reconstruct) an "American" and "white" identity out of an increasingly polyglot European immigrant population...Whiteness of a Different Color is a subtle and sensitive exegesis and deconstruction of the immigrant experience in American culture.
— John White
Jacobson builds a history of how the category of "whiteness" plays in American history...His goal is to demystify, and the tone he takes does exactly that. Wry and often sarcastic, his bite is sharpened by his ability to pick out the dark, unintentional humor from his sources.
— Willoughby Mariano
Jacobson's important book helps to fill an important gap in the literature about the history of European immigrants assuming different racial identities in the United States...Because of its broad sweep of history, Jacobson is able to reveal previously ignored ways in which anti-racism coalitions have succeeded without yielding to assimilationist ideology.
— Louis Anthes