The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter

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Synopsis

A New York Times bestseller: “This terrific new book . . . [explores] the ‘notion of whiteness,’ an idea as dangerous as it is seductive.”—Boston Globe


Telling perhaps the most important forgotten story in American history, eminent historian Nell Irvin Painter guides us through more than two thousand years of Western civilization, illuminating not only the invention of race but also the frequent praise of “whiteness” for economic, scientific, and political ends. A story filled with towering historical figures, The History of White People closes a huge gap in literature that has long focused on the non-white and forcefully reminds us that the concept of “race” is an all-too-human invention whose meaning, importance, and reality have changed as it has been driven by a long and rich history of events.
 

About Nell Irvin Painter

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Nell Irvin Painter is the award-winning author of many books, including Sojourner Truth, Southern History Across the Color Line, Creating Black Americans, The History of White People, and Standing at Armageddon. She is currently the Edwards Professor of American History, Emerita, at Princeton University and lives in Newark, New Jersey, and the Adirondacks.
 
Published April 18, 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company. 496 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The History of White People

Kirkus Reviews

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Though we have mapped the human genome and discovered how closely related all the peoples of Earth are, “the fundamental black white binary endures, even though the category of whiteness—or might we say more precisely, a category of nonblackness—effectively expands.” Sure to interest students of ...

Mar 15 2010 | Read Full Review of The History of White People

The New York Times

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Nell Irvin Painter’s accessible study shows that deciding who is white has always been heavily influenced by class and culture.

Mar 28 2010 | Read Full Review of The History of White People

Publishers Weekly

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This new study by Princeton historian Painter (Standing at Armageddon , etc.) aims not merely to provide an updated scholarly account of African-American history, but to enrich our understanding of it with the subjective views of black artists, which she places alongside the more objective views ...

Sep 12 2005 | Read Full Review of The History of White People

PopMatters

The title of acclaimed historian Nell Irvin Painter’s The History of White People may sound a bit like Christian Landers satirical Stuff White People Like.

Apr 22 2010 | Read Full Review of The History of White People

NJ.com

Now, Painter elegantly presents a fourth, involving African-Americans and the newest immigrants to our shores.

Apr 25 2010 | Read Full Review of The History of White People

Socialist Review

While society has come a long way (the American Association for the Advancement of Science declared only in 1995 that scientifically race as a concept tells us nothing) Painter makes it clear that science and the growth of a multicultural middle class have not resolved the matter of being seen th...

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Project MUSE

Two central themes in the first half of the book are the lineage and myths in Western antiquity that precede the emergence of modern ideas about a "white race" of people and the long history of what Painter calls, somewhat misleadingly, the "white slavery" of the middle ages, where "geography, no...

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The Christian Century

Weaving her way along from the ancient Greeks to the human genome project, Painter shows how whiteness has been a confusing racial category and how intellectuals have painstakingly defined an imaginary white race (or races).

Dec 22 2010 | Read Full Review of The History of White People

Eurweb

Today, however, biologists and geneticists no longer believe in the physical existence of races—though they recognize the continuing power of racism (the belief that races exist, and that some are better than others)… Although science today denies race any standing as objective truth, and the U....

Sep 14 2010 | Read Full Review of The History of White People

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