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It is now more than three decades since the historic Supreme Court decision on desegregation, Brown v. Board of Education. Thomas Sowell takes a tough, factual look at what has actually happened over these decades -- as distinguished from the hopes with which they began or the rhetoric with which they continue, Who has gained and who has lost? Which of the assumptions behi It is now more than three decades since the historic Supreme Court decision on desegregation, Brown v. Board of Education. Thomas Sowell takes a tough, factual look at what has actually happened over these decades -- as distinguished from the hopes with which they began or the rhetoric with which they continue, Who has gained and who has lost? Which of the assumptions behind the civil rights revolution have stood the test of time and which have proven to be mistaken or even catastrophic to those who were supposed to be helped?


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It is now more than three decades since the historic Supreme Court decision on desegregation, Brown v. Board of Education. Thomas Sowell takes a tough, factual look at what has actually happened over these decades -- as distinguished from the hopes with which they began or the rhetoric with which they continue, Who has gained and who has lost? Which of the assumptions behi It is now more than three decades since the historic Supreme Court decision on desegregation, Brown v. Board of Education. Thomas Sowell takes a tough, factual look at what has actually happened over these decades -- as distinguished from the hopes with which they began or the rhetoric with which they continue, Who has gained and who has lost? Which of the assumptions behind the civil rights revolution have stood the test of time and which have proven to be mistaken or even catastrophic to those who were supposed to be helped?

30 review for Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lucas

    I liked this book for two reasons. First, it was strongly based on statistics (though you can discuss the method sometimes). Second, and more important, it calls for responsibilities of minorities what, in my vision, is important to strengthen them. I believe that whenever we denied taking responsibility a chance to create virtue is lost. So, every time you blame discrimination for an undesirable result which is in your power to change, you get weaker, not stronger. Civil Rights Movement was resp I liked this book for two reasons. First, it was strongly based on statistics (though you can discuss the method sometimes). Second, and more important, it calls for responsibilities of minorities what, in my vision, is important to strengthen them. I believe that whenever we denied taking responsibility a chance to create virtue is lost. So, every time you blame discrimination for an undesirable result which is in your power to change, you get weaker, not stronger. Civil Rights Movement was responsible for an astonishing achievement in the social emancipation of an underdog minority through political action. The conditions of black people in the United States were indeed unique and their dreadful reality demanded the articulation of institutions (NAACP, SCLC, CORE, etc) and the pressure of civil society upon authorities. Sowell argued that while the importance of the movement was uncontestable, it was ground in premises which were not entirely true. As a result of political clime, these premises were not challenged at the time. Even though political useful in that moment, the generalization of Civil Rights Vision to others political contexts is potentially harmful to minorities. There are three fundamentals in Civil Rights Vision: 1) The equalization of statistical differences and discrimination 2) The creed of inferiority: the tendency to believe in a false dichotomy, namely, that difference in group results are explained either by discrimination or by genetics. 3) The idea that all misfortunes of a minority came from society and thus only political action can change the reality of the underdog Sowell demonstrated that the application of civil rights vision to other contexts lead to distortions of original goals of the movement. For example, the idea of "Equality of Opportunity" was slowly replaced by affirmative action and people stopped defending individual opportunities and started demanding equal results for groups. Then, Sowell spends some time showing statistics to make clear that the first and second fundamentals are essentially false. Sowell wasn't trying to deny discrimination but stress that some difficulties will be overcome only through individual action. The effort to blame discrimination for every bad outcome is doing in favor of political elites who needs to justify their necessity. The consequence of this excessive focus on the political solution is the creation of ethnic bases policies that, ultimately, will rises chauvinism against minorities.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Eclaghorn

    Excellent.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jamie King

    If feel that there is no way I could ever do justice trying to explain Thomas Sowell's intellect. On this topic alone I have gone through an exhaustive amount of material of his, yet each time go goes about explaining this it is intriguing and far from redundant. Sowell admits this is no work of pleasure and hardly voluntary but a project of demand. One that is so crucially needed in dispelling so many of the accepted myths that have substitued a blind justice of equal opportunity, with one based If feel that there is no way I could ever do justice trying to explain Thomas Sowell's intellect. On this topic alone I have gone through an exhaustive amount of material of his, yet each time go goes about explaining this it is intriguing and far from redundant. Sowell admits this is no work of pleasure and hardly voluntary but a project of demand. One that is so crucially needed in dispelling so many of the accepted myths that have substitued a blind justice of equal opportunity, with one based on pre-determined outcomes that demand uniform results. The result has been counter-intuitive, almost dystopian; where we no longer allow for equal opportunity in the move a movement founded on this very liberty. The book is very focused on the legislative wrongs and judicial errors which explains what went wrong, whereas most of Sowell's other work till this point has been focused on the trends of people in a macro sense and the effects of culture on those trends as studied in Ethnic America; a great book for new and young Americans studying with their own identity or confused by the origins and greatness of our national makeup.

  4. 4 out of 5

    TJ Shelby

    I marvel at the coincidence in my decision to read George Orwell's 1984 as I simultaneously read Sowell's "Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality" which he wrote in 1984. Both deal with the issue of revisionist history and with those of capable thought processes to debate whether certain things did or were happening. As a self-professed "Stat Geek" this book blew me away. It tore down a few walls that I harbored as fact and/or opinion regarding the role of government in the civil rights movement. One I marvel at the coincidence in my decision to read George Orwell's 1984 as I simultaneously read Sowell's "Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality" which he wrote in 1984. Both deal with the issue of revisionist history and with those of capable thought processes to debate whether certain things did or were happening. As a self-professed "Stat Geek" this book blew me away. It tore down a few walls that I harbored as fact and/or opinion regarding the role of government in the civil rights movement. One of the most damning revelations was that there was more progress in civil rights BEFORE the Civil Rights Act than after. I can't help but wonder, as many American homosexuals battle for similar government supported rights, if this occurence will unfortunately repeat itself. One of my favorite quotes from the book, a damning condemnation of our current political state, says: "Demagoguery flourishes where something can be said in a few catchy words that would take volumes to disprove." I recommend this to all.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Sowell makes good arguments for civil rights as negative rights vs. "outcomes", and makes a case for different outcomes for individuals or groups without requiring either discrimination or genetic inferiority. He also does a good job of identifying costs to various interventions.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Recommended here. Recommended here.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    I truly believe everyone should read this book or something else on a similar topic by Sowell. Aside from the specific information and arguments presented, enough in themselves to force any honest reader to think more rigorously about the topic and question many near-universal assumptions, I'll never look at statistics comparing various groups the same way again. I'll always have to ask: What level of aggregation are we looking at? What factors are not being considered? What unspoken assumptions I truly believe everyone should read this book or something else on a similar topic by Sowell. Aside from the specific information and arguments presented, enough in themselves to force any honest reader to think more rigorously about the topic and question many near-universal assumptions, I'll never look at statistics comparing various groups the same way again. I'll always have to ask: What level of aggregation are we looking at? What factors are not being considered? What unspoken assumptions are present?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Achord

    Brown v. Board of Ed. “was not simply a decision but the beginning of a revolution that has not yet run its course, but which has already shown the classic symptoms of a revolution taking a very different path from the envisioned by those who set it in motion. “The civil rights revolution of the past generation has had wide ramifications among a growing variety of groups, and has changed not only the political landscape and social history of the United States, but has also altered the very concep Brown v. Board of Ed. “was not simply a decision but the beginning of a revolution that has not yet run its course, but which has already shown the classic symptoms of a revolution taking a very different path from the envisioned by those who set it in motion. “The civil rights revolution of the past generation has had wide ramifications among a growing variety of groups, and has changed not only the political landscape and social history of the United States, but has also altered the very concept of constitutional law and the role of courts… “It is far from incidental that the civil rights movement began among black Americans…though the general principles arrived at were later applied successively to very different groups in American society — to women and the aged, for example, as well as to such disparate racial and ethnic groups as Asians, Hispanics, and American Indians. “Ironically, the civil rights revolution began by emphasizing precisely what was unique about the history of black Americans — Jim Crow laws, and some of the more virulent racism ever seen anywhere. But upon that very uniqueness, general principles of morality and causation were established. These principles constitute the civil rights vision of the world. The extent to which that vision corresponds to reality is crucial for understanding both the successes and failures of the civil rights revolution thus far."

  9. 4 out of 5

    Don Lim

    It may surprise the reader to know this book was published in 1984, and yet the same misconceptions and fallacies exist in the public. It is also sad that Sowell felt it was his duty to write this book when time could have been spent doing other work. Sowell makes quick work of the two incorrect reasoning when attempting to explain the discrepancies of the black population: statistics and discrimination. Statistics alone does not necessarily mean there is a disparity in equality of opportunity. It may surprise the reader to know this book was published in 1984, and yet the same misconceptions and fallacies exist in the public. It is also sad that Sowell felt it was his duty to write this book when time could have been spent doing other work. Sowell makes quick work of the two incorrect reasoning when attempting to explain the discrepancies of the black population: statistics and discrimination. Statistics alone does not necessarily mean there is a disparity in equality of opportunity. Discrimination alone does not account for the success of Black West Indians. Furthermore, Sowell examines the transformation of the civil rights movement. Brown v. Board of Education was a monumental stride towards equality for blacks but the development of Green v. School Board of Kent County led to a decision where students were judged on the basis of race, beginning the tide of fighting racism with racism. The book is perhaps more relevant today after electing the first black president. Race relations has become more sour and to no surprise provided you read the book. The issue has become so highly volatile that as Sowell pointed out, the accumulation of matches only needs a single spark to blow.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jerry

    Sowell examines how the civil rights movement began, and what it morphed into. It started as desiring equal opportunity and developed into demanding equal outcome, a policy that actually discriminates in all sorts of ways and results in counterproductive unintended consequences. He persuasively makes the case that individual rights were abandoned to get group results. All kinds of progress was being made for minorities before the civil rights movement. Sowell is the iconoclast of reigning false Sowell examines how the civil rights movement began, and what it morphed into. It started as desiring equal opportunity and developed into demanding equal outcome, a policy that actually discriminates in all sorts of ways and results in counterproductive unintended consequences. He persuasively makes the case that individual rights were abandoned to get group results. All kinds of progress was being made for minorities before the civil rights movement. Sowell is the iconoclast of reigning false dichotomies such as believing the that differences in group results (blacks, whites, Asians, men, women, etc) are explained either by discrimination or by genetics. This is a lesser known book of Sowell's, but highly valuable to recommend to others because it is brief and directly relevant to the many fallacies passionately advocated every day by politicians, left and right.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth StClair

    Reading this book shifted the way I look at presented statistics. Having minored in Poverty and Human Capability studies in college, I felt I knew broadly the various interpretations of the Civil Rights movement, as well as the continued struggle for equality today. This book changed that. While reading, at times I struggled to understand how an issue so obvious could get so out of hand, and muddled by pointless arguments and false or misleading numbers, but after watching CNN for a few moments, Reading this book shifted the way I look at presented statistics. Having minored in Poverty and Human Capability studies in college, I felt I knew broadly the various interpretations of the Civil Rights movement, as well as the continued struggle for equality today. This book changed that. While reading, at times I struggled to understand how an issue so obvious could get so out of hand, and muddled by pointless arguments and false or misleading numbers, but after watching CNN for a few moments, I quickly remembered why this is a problem. I'm not sure that I fully agree with this book. I think discrimination does still exist, and that there are still civil rights issues to be fought and won (ex: gay marriage, recently legalized, as well as other issues). However, by breaking down statistics into more evenly measurable groups (same age range, same household make up, etc...) it makes it more easy to see that discrimination isn't active in the ways previously thought. I liked the economic argument that if businesses were actively discriminating, this would result in a failure to maximize profits. Eventually some business would figure it out. That is not to say, of course, that there isn't discrimination. There is. But the discrimination of today is much more complex than it is often presented. Women earn less than men, partly because they end up in fields that pay less but allow them to take time off and re-enter without needing much additional training. I remember wondering in elementary school what was the purpose of having my dad pay for college if I was "just going to get married and have kids," thereby removing myself from the labor force. While I now understand the importance of education regardless of future life choices, part of me acknowledges how this thought process must play for employers. Women, more so than men, will take time off after the birth of their child, are more likely to be the stay-at-home parent, and thereby more likely to drop out of the labor force, or hold themselves back from progression in the labor force, than men. Culturally, this is what has happened in the past and, despite advances in female employment, continues to happen today. As Sowell points out, it seems marriage and motherhood detract more so from female job growth than discrimination. There is a lot to be said about this idea as well as this book, and I don't have the time to type out all of my thoughts. Parts of this book made me uncomfortable. Sowell's argument that ethnic cultures influence perceived inequalities in job outcomes (ie: Asians are more strongly represented in maths and sciences while blacks and Hispanics are vastly underrepresented), while interesting and valid, at times toed the line of being perceived as arguing the superiority of some cultures over others (which wasn't the author's purpose). Sowell's main argument against current civil rights leaders can be summarized as equal opportunity does not mean equal results. Overall, this book gave me a vast amount to consider. I plan to read more books on this issue. I do believe there continues to be discrimination and unjust inequality in the US. However, after reading this book, I think we are using misleading measurements and therefore unhelpful approaches to solve this issue.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Carson

    Sowell did well to criticize areas where correlations are inaccurately treated as causal when referencing the policies and results of Civil Rights. It is true that more randomized trials are necessary to analyze and adjust Civil Rights policies. However, isn't this also true for the "war on terror" (military industrial complex), the war on drugs (criminal justice system), the education system, "trickle down economics" etc? I also question Sowell's convenient changes in statistical granularity. I Sowell did well to criticize areas where correlations are inaccurately treated as causal when referencing the policies and results of Civil Rights. It is true that more randomized trials are necessary to analyze and adjust Civil Rights policies. However, isn't this also true for the "war on terror" (military industrial complex), the war on drugs (criminal justice system), the education system, "trickle down economics" etc? I also question Sowell's convenient changes in statistical granularity. In one instance he highlights the cultural "truths" evident in German, Chinese, Irish and other peoples in general terms yet insists on going with more granular statistics to counter broad claims of discrimination against Blacks or women. I accept that discrimination describes only part of the plight of the Black experience in the United States but I am not convinced that culture is a stronger influence. Especially since Black American culture is so short in it's history relative to the others highlighted in the book. If anything, Black culture is one of unparalleled strength, resilience, and creativity. This of course was out of necessity in order to survive 250 years of brutal economic exploitation, cultural genocide, educational suppression, and psychological and emotional trauma plus another 100 years of legal segregation and discrimination. Finally, I fully endorse a keen eye towards results for Civil Rights. What would capitalism be without results at the end of the day? The absence of meaningful, quality statistics to effectively gauge the efficacy of Civil Rights legislation doesn't warrant throwing the entire accomplishment away or casting it as a failure after only 20 years compared to 350 years of state condoned exploitation and discrimination.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    A conversation about societal injustice led me to this book. I don’t know everything, I don’t pretend to have it figured out and know I'm only scratching the surface. All I know is that Civil Rights is a subject where emotions run high. It’s intimate, it's raw, and its painful and those emotions are powerful fuel for politics. I turned to Thomas Sowell for his expertise in Economics and his analysis of disparities pre and post-affirmative action. He admits he took no pleasure in writing the book A conversation about societal injustice led me to this book. I don’t know everything, I don’t pretend to have it figured out and know I'm only scratching the surface. All I know is that Civil Rights is a subject where emotions run high. It’s intimate, it's raw, and its painful and those emotions are powerful fuel for politics. I turned to Thomas Sowell for his expertise in Economics and his analysis of disparities pre and post-affirmative action. He admits he took no pleasure in writing the book but felt it an obligation due to the growing regression among the truly disadvantaged and increasing polarization of the races. This book was published in 1985 so some of the data is dated, however, his key message is highly relevant today. He analyzes census data from the 16th to 20th century and within that, reviews multiple cultures and population migrations. He then compares the origins of the civil rights movement to the 1980s civil rights vision and examines the change in narrative. Sowell illustrates how easily a narrative can form by simply ignoring or including a few key variables. His conclusion simply states that the “evidence” in political rhetoric can rarely be summed up under one causal accusation and these accusations often obscure the real issues the truly disadvantaged face. While his tone is blunt, the underlying concern is for the disadvantaged and a plea for us to do better. In the final pages, he warns against the very hate groups we see today. It's a prediction he hoped would never come to pass. I look forward to reading critiques to this work as well as his citations and footnotes over the next few weeks.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Wayne

    Thomas Sowell may be the most thoroughly intelligent man alive. He is an expert in systematically dismantling shallow visions, false assumptions, and the pernicious appeal of fluffy rhetoric and ego-driven self-flattery that persists in media, politics, and culture surrounding race and ethnic discussions. The real-life consequences of policies and philosophies that hide behind the language of good intentions are given a sober, clear-eyed, devastating critique in Sowell's work. How this man isn't Thomas Sowell may be the most thoroughly intelligent man alive. He is an expert in systematically dismantling shallow visions, false assumptions, and the pernicious appeal of fluffy rhetoric and ego-driven self-flattery that persists in media, politics, and culture surrounding race and ethnic discussions. The real-life consequences of policies and philosophies that hide behind the language of good intentions are given a sober, clear-eyed, devastating critique in Sowell's work. How this man isn't more widely known, widely read and studied is a disgrace. Sowell is a hero and a national treasure. "Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality" would be a deeply disturbing and upsetting book if you are wedded to much of the racial rhetoric and false visions you get from the media, but with an open mind it is a tremendously inspiring book, a book that reconnects you to the inspirational thoughts and philosophies of great civil rights leaders - King, Malcolm X, Booker T Washington and Frederick Douglas - and shows just how radically far the nation has strayed from these ideals in the name of "civil rights." Brilliant work by a brilliant man.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    We all know the sound bites of claims about the Civil Rights Movement. Thomas Sowell in Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality explains some statistics that refute many of those claims. He lays out his argument pretty well and makes sense most of the time. The epilogue is quite whiny complaining about people misrepresenting his work and sometimes I felt like he was trying to use as many big words as he could to show how awesome and smart he is. Overall, the book is decent and worth reading. There is We all know the sound bites of claims about the Civil Rights Movement. Thomas Sowell in Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality explains some statistics that refute many of those claims. He lays out his argument pretty well and makes sense most of the time. The epilogue is quite whiny complaining about people misrepresenting his work and sometimes I felt like he was trying to use as many big words as he could to show how awesome and smart he is. Overall, the book is decent and worth reading. There is clear bias making it a good book for high schoolers learning about the Civil Rights era to read and use as an exercise in critical thinking to determine which arguments are valid and which might be logic leaps.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shane Hawk

    Cogent and succinct is my favorite Sowell. I'd argue this was written at his prime in 1984 during the twentieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He offers a rational review of the public policies that had been implemented in the name of civil rights. These criticisms still hold water today. His arguments were logically sound and presented without an air of sophistication. He's straightforward and never veers off too far to make a point using other groups as a counterexample. I thorou Cogent and succinct is my favorite Sowell. I'd argue this was written at his prime in 1984 during the twentieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He offers a rational review of the public policies that had been implemented in the name of civil rights. These criticisms still hold water today. His arguments were logically sound and presented without an air of sophistication. He's straightforward and never veers off too far to make a point using other groups as a counterexample. I thoroughly enjoyed his epilogue where he gunned down critics of his and similar thinker's work with a fully automatic and without remorse.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Montour

    “If there are not equal results among groups presumed to have equal genetic potential, then some inequality of opportunity must have intervened somewhere, and the question of precisely where is less important than the remedy of restoring the less fortunate to their just position. The fatal flaw in this kind of thinking is that there are many reasons, besides genes and discrimination, why groups differ in their economic performances and rewards. Groups differ by large amounts demographically, cul “If there are not equal results among groups presumed to have equal genetic potential, then some inequality of opportunity must have intervened somewhere, and the question of precisely where is less important than the remedy of restoring the less fortunate to their just position. The fatal flaw in this kind of thinking is that there are many reasons, besides genes and discrimination, why groups differ in their economic performances and rewards. Groups differ by large amounts demographically, culturally, and geographically—and all of these differences have profound effects on incomes and occupations.” Thomas Sowell

  18. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    When someone like Thomas E. Woods, Jr. recommends a book, you have to pay attention and then read that book. This is one of those books, and it is as spectacular as Woods made it out to be. It is a must read, especially for anyone interested in "race" issues. As usual, Sowell uses his brilliant mind to pierce through the nonsense. No one does it more completely with more panache with more intelligence than Sowell. Read this! it will change your mind.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Paul Herriott

    I understand why the Sowell name comes with so much controversy. He writes in a way that flies in the face of many progressive ideas. This book challenges the common perception of Civil Rights and the change they claim, by pointing to the impact of the culture of people instead of color. He also shows how stats comparing people are so poorly manipulated to exaggerate and create discrepancies.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Quintillis K.

    Sowell misses the point totally. This Economist does not accept, or include the sociological aspects that has affected people. As he states, one can take any number of factors and make them fit their conclusion, as I feel it is what he did in this book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michael Delaware

    Thomas Sowell has again offered up an amazing fact based book that will change the way you look at the subject of civil rights. A brilliantly written account of what you think you know, and what the media says, and what actually is the case in our culture.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Medrano

    Brilliant, even decades after its publication.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Don

    rights most in danger from those in least suspicion.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Palacio

    Thomas Sowell is great usual.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Riley

    As always, Thomas Sowell writes with a clarity and evidence-based reasoning that leaves the reader nearly breathless keeping up with it all. Highly recommend.

  26. 4 out of 5

    T Hester

    Paradigm shifting book for me...Sowell writes as an economists/sociologist but it comes alive for the reader.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    Great, if now dated, look at the policies surrounding the Civil Rights movement and their effect (or lack of effect) in improving society.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gregory

    An uncomfortable but important read. Sowell's conclusion, now penned about 30 years ago, feels somewhat prophetic.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy

    In reviewing this book, I begin first with the last words in the closing chapter of this book, largely because the author Dr. Thomas Sowell has been misrepresented by those who are more politically liberal. This work is not a recommendation of minorities to lift themselves out of their own bootstrap, but rather a focus on political policies with government interference that affects the disadvantage. Thus, it's not a complaint against individual minorities, nor is it a denial that there is no suc In reviewing this book, I begin first with the last words in the closing chapter of this book, largely because the author Dr. Thomas Sowell has been misrepresented by those who are more politically liberal. This work is not a recommendation of minorities to lift themselves out of their own bootstrap, but rather a focus on political policies with government interference that affects the disadvantage. Thus, it's not a complaint against individual minorities, nor is it a denial that there is no such thing as racism or other evil prejudices. With that said, this book is an evaluation of the axioms of the civil rights movement after 1965. Sowell evaluates the presupposition of whether or not political means bring about ethnic prosperity, noting that there is not a necessary correlation between political success and economic success: Irish American political success and activity did not correlate with economic prosperity while Chinese, Italians and Jews were affluent and successful economically but not necessarily enjoy political clout overseas (Indonesia, etc) while being politically apathetic in the United States at certain time in their history and was yet prosperous. The author also pointed out how entrance into politics is not necessarily a blessing if an ethnic group does so on the basis of ethnic group solidarity and may suffer backlash. The author also noted the change definition of civil rights and chapter 2 was good in demonstrating the danger of identifying racism on the basis of statistical aggregation. Here the economist side of the author comes out, in which he points out a lot of factors are also at work including cultural, etc. Chapter three even discuss about how segregated schools at times and according to race can do better than white. Chapter three's main refutation is of the invokation of "modern authority" over legal precedence or the Constitution in Brown vs Board of Education with psychological studies that have now been discredited. Chapter four has a good study arguing that culture plays a stronger role than color when it comes to economic success though historically this was not always the case; his evaluation of West Indies in light of the American statistical average and blacks in general is a powerful argument. Noting that first generation West Indies are above the average than these two groups, he also pointed out that one must also study second generation West Indies who would be more like other African Americans (lack of accents, etc) and whether or not they do better or worst than the first generation. If they are the same as the rest of other African Americans, then color might be a stronger probable cause for predicting income but if they still do better than the national average and their parent's average, culture (family, education, etc) has more of a role than color itself. The statistics reveal that second generation West Indies actually do better than all three groups (first generation West Indies, Blacks in general, and American average). Also a great chapter on closer analysis of the economics of Woman in the work place. Much more can be said, but this is a book worth reading.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mark Geise

    Of all the Thomas Sowell works I have read to date, I believe this is his most scathing (and effective) attack on the prevailing civil rights mission. Written in 1984, Sowell correctly predicted the trend of the civil rights vision. The statistics largely indicate that he was correct when he stated that the civil rights battle was largely won in the 1960's; what has been done in the name of civil rights since that time has largely served to hurt the groups that legislation was intended to help. Of all the Thomas Sowell works I have read to date, I believe this is his most scathing (and effective) attack on the prevailing civil rights mission. Written in 1984, Sowell correctly predicted the trend of the civil rights vision. The statistics largely indicate that he was correct when he stated that the civil rights battle was largely won in the 1960's; what has been done in the name of civil rights since that time has largely served to hurt the groups that legislation was intended to help. Particularly in the line of Sowell's fire are the minimum wage and affirmative action legislation. One of the unifying themes in all of Sowell's works is that we must analyze given programs/initiatives by their actual results rather than their intentions. When we actually look at results, it is hard to recognize affirmative action as anything but a failure. The rate of increase in black employment in white collar positions actually slowed following the Civil Rights Act of 1964. After affirmative action (you can trace this back to the "goals and tables" outlined in the early 1970's), there is no demonstrable improvement that was not already underway prior to the imposition of affirmative action on employers. Even more importantly, Sowell explains similar patterns in other countries that have implemented preferential policies comparable to affirmative action. Promoting preferential policies often results in gains for demagogues and those that preach to the "underprivileged" group, but gains to the actual intended beneficiaries of such programs are conspicuously absent. Oftentimes, preferential policies result in new inter-group hostilities that were not present before the new policies. I believe that this book perfectly achieves its objective. It is a fantastic introduction to Dr. Sowell's position on the civil rights vision. For those that disagree with him, this roughly 150 page treatment will not require you to devote much time to expose yourselves to his ideas. For those that agree with him, you will appreciate the concise presentation of his positions.

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