Barack Obama, in his acclaimed campaign speech discussing the troubling complexities of race in America today, quoted William Faulkner's famous remark "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." In Not Even Past, award-winning historian Thomas Sugrue examines the paradox of race in Obama's America and how President Obama intends to deal with it.
Obama's journey to the White House undoubtedly marks a watershed in the history of race in America. Yet even in what is being hailed as the post-civil rights era, racial divisionsparticularly between blacks and whitesremain deeply entrenched in American life. Sugrue traces Obama's evolving understanding of race and racial inequality throughout his career, from his early days as a community organizer in Chicago, to his time as an attorney and scholar, to his spectacular rise to power as a charismatic and savvy politician, to his dramatic presidential campaign. Sugrue looks at Obama's place in the contested history of the civil rights struggle; his views about the root causes of black poverty in America; and the incredible challenges confronting his historic presidency.
Does Obama's presidency signal the end of race in American life? In Not Even Past, a leading historian of civil rights, race, and urban America offers a revealing and unflinchingly honest assessment of the culture and politics of race in the age of Obama, and of our prospects for a postracial America.
About the Author
Thomas J. Sugrue is the David Boies Professor of History and Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. His books include Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North and The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Princeton).
Table of Contents
CHAPTER I: "This Is My Story": Obama, Civil Rights, and Memory 11
CHAPTER II: Obama and the Truly Disadvantaged: The Politics of Race and Class 56
CHAPTER III: "A More Perfect Union"? The Burden of Race in Obama's America 92
What People are Saying About This
In Not Even Past, one of America's most prominent historians of race and rights turns a shrewd and honest eye to the contemporary scene. It should be essential reading for anyone trying to understand the changes in racial experience and argument in America since the 1960s, and Barack Obama's place in them.
Daniel T. Rodgers, author of "Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age"
Thomas Sugrue's elegant book offers a compelling look at the state of American race relations at the moment of Obama's ascendancy. Embedding this political moment in the context of the complex portrait of civil rights developed in his previous work, Sugrue enables us to see both the power and also the limits of charismatic leadership in driving social change.
Mary L. Dudziak, author of "Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy"
In this brilliant work of contemporary history, Thomas Sugrue vividly reconstructs the America in which Barack Obama came of age, and expertly probes the varied political and intellectual influences that have shaped our president's thinking about race and civil rights. No one has written about the complexities of racial politics or Obama's racial compromises with more skill, insight, or erudition. A powerful and sobering book.
Gary Gerstle, author of "American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century"
"In this brilliant work of contemporary history, Thomas Sugrue vividly reconstructs the America in which Barack Obama came of age, and expertly probes the varied political and intellectual influences that have shaped our president's thinking about race and civil rights. No one has written about the complexities of racial politics or Obama's racial compromises with more skill, insight, or erudition. A powerful and sobering book."Gary Gerstle, author of American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century
Not Even Past is a thoughtful reflection on Barack Obama's rise to the presidency and what it tells usand doesn't tell usabout the meaning and significance of race in the twenty-first-century United States. Admirably concise and elegantly written, this book lays bare the mystique of the 'postracial' presidency without resorting to the kinds of unanchored generalizations and truisms that too often attend conversations about race.
Alice O'Connor, University of California, Santa Barbara
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Great short read on the intellectual biography of the most historic figure of our generation. A must read for any student of american studies