The Persistence of the Color Line by Randall Kennedy

94%

14 Critic Reviews

The cornerstone essay, “Obama Courts Black America,” is a breath of fresh air on many counts. . .
-NY Times

Synopsis

Timely—as the 2012 presidential election nears—and controversial, here is the first book by a major African-American public intellectual on racial politics and the Obama presidency.
 
Renowned for his cool reason vis-à-vis the pitfalls and clichés of racial discourse, Randall Kennedy—Harvard professor of law and author of the New York Times best seller Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word—gives us a keen and shrewd analysis of the complex relationship between the first black president and his African-American constituency.
 
Kennedy tackles such hot-button issues as the nature of racial opposition to Obama, whether Obama has a singular responsibility to African Americans, electoral politics and cultural chauvinism, black patriotism, the differences in Obama’s presentation of himself to blacks and to whites, the challenges posed by the dream of a postracial society, and the far-from-simple symbolism of Obama as a leader of the Joshua generation in a country that has elected only three black senators and two black governors in its entire history.
 
Eschewing the critical excesses of both the left and the right, Kennedy offers a gimlet-eyed view of Obama’s triumphs and travails, his strengths and weaknesses, as they pertain to the troubled history of race in America.




From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Randall Kennedy

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Randall Kennedy is the Michael R. Klein Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He received his undergraduate degree from Princeton and his law degree from Yale. He attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and is a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. He is the author of five previous books, including Race, Crime, and the Law, for which he received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. A member of the bars of the Supreme Court of the United States and the District of Columbia, and of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he lives in Massachusetts.













Author Residence: Cambridge, MA













Author Hometown: Columbia, SC
 
Published August 16, 2011 by Vintage. 336 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, History. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Persistence of the Color Line
All: 14 | Positive: 13 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Excellent
Jul 15 2011

. . .Kennedy retains sufficient objectivity to properly appraise the much-acclaimed “A More Perfect Union” speech. . .

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Brent Staples on Sep 02 2011

The cornerstone essay, “Obama Courts Black America,” is a breath of fresh air on many counts. . .

Read Full Review of The Persistence of the Color ... | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Dwight Garner on Aug 11 2011

Among the best things. . .is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right. . .

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
Jun 20 2011

. . .provocative and informative, arguable and absorbing.

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Christian Science Monitor

Excellent
Reviewed by Kelly Nuxoll on Aug 26 2011

By adapting his lectures and harnessing some of the national chatter, Kennedy has created a valuable historical document. . .

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Clyde Linsley

Kennedy works mightily to play fair with both Obama and his detractors.

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City Book Review

Excellent
Reviewed by Claude Ury on Nov 11 2011

The lesson to be learned from reading this book is why racial issues will haunt American politics in the foreseeable future.

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Macleans

Below average
Reviewed by Jaime Weinman on Aug 24 2011

. . .though he says that there is a “racial backlash” against Obama, he doesn’t fully explain what this backlash is. . .

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Boston.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Kate Tuttle on Aug 21 2011

He deftly sketches both the infighting among Democrats in the primary season. . .as well as the ugly history of race-baiting that winds through American politics from the country’s birth.

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The Root

Excellent
Reviewed by Thomas Williams on Sep 27 2011

This is the most thorough examination of race in the Obama era to date.

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Dominion of New York

Excellent
Reviewed by Joshua Bloodworth on Aug 15 2011

While Kennedy miscalculates Clinton and errs a few more times in the book, these shortcomings don’t detract from the book’s overall importance. . .

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Harvard Political Review

Excellent
Reviewed by Galila Gray on Nov 03 2011

At the core of the book is Kennedy’s well-argued point that Obama walks a metaphorical tightrope. . .

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Charleston City Paper

Excellent
Reviewed by Chris Haire on Aug 09 2011

When Randall Kennedy talks about race, well, I listen.

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Tikkun

Excellent

This book is packed full of questions that never get publicly debated in mainstream American politics.

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Reader Rating for The Persistence of the Color Line
77%

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