University of Illinois Press has always prided ourselves on our commitment to social justice. In light of the recent events in Charlottesville, here are 13 books about politics, race, and class in American culture. Check out the other posts in our series here.
1. Myths America Lives By by Richard T. Hughes
In this book Richard T. Hughes identifies the five key myths that lie at the heart of the American experience–the myths of the Chosen Nation, of Nature’s Nation, of the Christian Nation, of the Millennial Nation, and of the Innocent Nation. Drawing on a range of dissenting voices, Hughes shows that by canonizing these seemingly harmless myths of national identity as absolute truths, America risks undermining the sweepingly egalitarian promise of the Declaration of Independence.
2. The Rural Face of White Supremacy: Beyond Jim Crow by Mark Schultz
The Rural Face of White Supremacy is a detailed study of the daily experiences of ordinary people in rural Hancock County, Georgia. Drawing on his own interviews with over two hundred black and white residents, Schultz depicts the rhythms of work, social interaction, violence, power, and paternalism in a setting much different from the more widely studied postbellum urban South.
3. The Political Use of Racial Narratives by Richard A. Pride
Exploring who benefits and who pays when different narratives are accepted as true, Pride offers a step-by-step account of how Mobile’s culture changed each time a new and more forceful narrative was used to justify inequality. More than a retelling of Mobile’s story of desegregation, The Political Use of Racial Narratives promotes the value of rhetorical and narrative analysis in the social sciences and history.
4. Race and the Foundations of Knowledge edited by Joseph Young and Jana Evans Braziel
This anthology demonstrates the longstanding, multifarious, and major role that race has played in the formation of knowledge. The authors demonstrate how race theory intersects with other bodies of knowledge by examining discursive records such as travelogues, literature, and historiography; theoretical structures such as common sense, pseudoscientific racism, and Eurocentrism; social structures of class, advancement, and identity; and politico-economic structures of capitalism, colonialism, and law.
5. American Oligarchy by Ron Formisano
American Oligarchy demonstrates the way the corrupt culture of the permanent political class extends down to the state and local level. Ron Formisano breaks down the ways this class creates economic inequality and how its own endemic corruption infects our entire society. Formisano delves into the work of not just politicians but lobbyists, consultants, appointed bureaucrats, pollsters, celebrity journalists, behind-the-scenes billionaires, and others.
6. Skin Deep edited by Cedric Herring, Verna M. Keith, and Hayward Derrick Horton
Written by some of the nation’s leading thinkers on race and colorism, these essays ask whether skin tone differentiation is imposed upon communities of color from the outside or is an internally-driven process aided and abetted by community members themselves. They also question whether the stratification process is the same for African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans.
7. Making Race and Making Power by Kent Redding
In this groundbreaking study, Kent Redding examines the fluid political landscape of the nineteenth-century South, revealing the complex interplay between the elite’s manipulation of political and racial identity and the innovative mobilizing strategies marginalized groups adopted in order to combat disfranchisement.
8. American Fuehrer by Frederick J. Simonelli
Frederick Simonelli’s biography of this powerful and enigmatic figure draws on primary sources of extraordinary depth, including declassified FBI files and manuscripts and other materials held by Rockwell’s family and associates. The first objective assessment of the American Nazi party and an authoritative study of the roots of neo-nazism, neo-fascism, and White Power extremism in postwar America, American Fuehrer is shocking and absorbing reading.
9. The Science and Politics of Racial Research by William H. Tucker
Unlike other critiques of the scientific literature on racial difference, The Science and Politics of Racial Research argues that there has been no scientific purpose or value to the study of innate differences in ability between groups. William Tucker shows how, for more than a century, scientific investigations of supposedly innate differences in ability between races have been used to rationalize social and political inequality as the unavoidable consequence of natural differences
10. The Funding of Scientific Racism by William H. Tucker
Although the Pioneer Fund denies its ties to any political agenda, this powerful and provocative volume reveals the truth behind their long history of clandestine activities. The Funding of Scientific Racism examines for the first time archival correspondence that incriminates the fund’s major players, revealing links to a Klansman’s crusade to repatriate blacks, as well as efforts to reverse the Brown decision, prevent passage of the Civil Rights Act, and implement a system of racially segregated private
11. Making Sense of American Liberalism edited by Jonathan Bell and Timothy Stanley
This collection of thoughtful and timely essays offers refreshing and intelligent new perspectives on postwar American liberalism. Sophisticated yet accessible, Making Sense of American Liberalism challenges popular myths about liberalism in the United States. The volume presents the Democratic Party and liberal reform efforts such as civil rights, feminism, labor, and environmentalism as a more united, more radical force than has been depicted in scholarship and the media emphasizing the decline and disunity of the left.
12. Christian America and the Kingdom of God by Richard T. Hughes
With conviction and careful consideration, Hughes reviews the myth of Christian America from its earliest history in the founding of the republic to the present day. Extensively analyzing the Old and New Testaments, Hughes provides a solid, scripturally-based explanation of the kingdom of God–a kingdom defined by love, peace, patience, and generosity. Throughout American history, however, this concept has been appropriated by religious and political leaders and distorted into a messianic nationalism that champions the United States as God’s “chosen nation” and bears little resemblance to the teachings of Jesus.
13. Democracy Inc by David S. Allen
In Democracy, Inc., David S. Allen exposes the vested interests behind the U.S. slide toward conflating corporate values with public and democratic values. He argues that rather than being institutional protectors of democratic principles, the press and law perversely contribute to the destruction of public discourse in the United States today.