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The Riddle of Racism

by S. Carl Hirsch

For thousands of years men have known that the inhabitants of different parts of the world are often visibly different. But in America, for the first time anywhere on earth, three great racial groups met in large numbers on the same continent. White colonizers took the land from the native population they called Indians, whose physical traits linked them to Asian origins. Black people were brought here from Africa to serve the white settlers as slaves. "Under this set of conditions," observes S. Carl Hirsch, "the meeting of the three great races on America's soil was not likely to he a happy one." In this bold, challenging book, the author examines the historical record for the roots of the race hatred that has troubled our nation since its inception. Within a chronological framework, the book traces the search for scientific knowledge of race as a biological phenomenon against the background of political events that reveal its sociological aspects. The scientific struggle was focussed on the question of "superior" and "inferior races, from a time when white supremacy was the prevailing view of America's political, social, and religious leaders, including those opposed to slavery, to today's understanding of a concept of race its biological and cultural significance. Along the way the reader meets many individuals whose personal stories illuminate the perpetual questions underlying that irrational force which still continues to pervade our land: racism. A Jane Addams Children's Book Award Winner.

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