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The History of White People

November 1st, 2010

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A mind-expanding and myth-destroying exploration of notions of white race—not merely a skin color but also a signal of power, prestige, and beauty to be withheld and granted selectively Ever since the Enlightenment, race theory and its inevitable partner, racism, have followed a crooked road, constructed by dominant peoples to justify their domination of others. Filling a huge gap in historical literature that long focused on the non-white, eminent historian Nell Irvin Painter guides us through more than two thousand years of Western civilization, tracing not only the invention of the idea of race but also the frequent worship of “whiteness” for economic, social, scientific, and political ends. Our story begins in Greek and Roman antiquity, where the concept of race did not exist, only geography and the opportunity to conquer and enslave others. Not until the eighteenth century did an obsession with whiteness flourish, with the German invention of the notion of Caucasian beauty. This theory made northern Europeans into “Saxons,” “Anglo-Saxons,” and “Teutons,” envisioned as uniquely handsome natural rulers. Here was a worldview congenial to northern Europeans bent on empire. There followed an explosion of theories of race, now focusing on racial temperament as well as skin color. Spread by such intellectuals as Madame de Stael and Thomas Carlyle, white race theory soon reached North America with a vengeance. Its chief spokesman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, did the most to label Anglo-Saxons—icons of beauty and virtue—as the only true Americans. It was an ideal that excluded not only blacks but also all ethnic groups not of Protestant, northern European background. The Irish and Native Americans were out and, later, so were the Chinese, Jews, Italians, Slavs, and Greeks—all deemed racially alien. Did immigrations threaten the very existence of America? Americans were assumed to be white, but who among poor immigrants could become truly American? A tortured and convoluted series of scientific explorations developed—theories intended to keep Anglo-Saxons at the top: the ever-popular measurement of skulls, the powerful eugenics movement, and highly biased intelligence tests—all designed to keep working people out and down. As Painter reveals, power—supported by economics, science, and politics—continued to drive exclusionary notions of whiteness until, deep into the twentieth century, political realities enlarged the category of truly American. A story filled with towering historical figures, The History of White People forcefully reminds us that the concept of one white race is a recent invention. The meaning, importance, and realty of this all-too-human thesis of race have buckled under the weight of a long and rich unfolding of events. 70 illustrations


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History Books A mind-expanding and myth-destroying exploration of notions of white race—not merely a skin color but also a signal of power, prestige, and beauty to be withheld and granted selectively Ever since the Enlightenment, race theory and its inevitable partner, racism, have followed a crooked road, constructed by dominant peoples to justify their domination of others. Filling a huge gap in historical literature that long focused on the non-white, eminent historian Nell Irvin Painter guides us through more than two thousand years of Western civilization, tracing not only the invention of the idea of race but also the frequent worship of “whiteness” for economic, social, scientific, and political ends. Our story begins in Greek and Roman antiquity, where the concept of race did not exist, only geography and the opportunity to conquer and enslave others. Not until the eighteenth century did an obsession with whiteness flourish, with the German invention of the notion of Caucasian beauty. This theory made northern Europeans into “Saxons,” “Anglo-Saxons,” and “Teutons,” envisioned as uniquely handsome natural rulers. Here was a worldview congenial to northern Europeans bent on empire. There followed an explosion of theories of race, now focusing on racial temperament as well as skin color. Spread by such intellectuals as Madame de Stael and Thomas Carlyle, white race theory soon reached North America with a vengeance. Its chief spokesman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, did the most to label Anglo-Saxons—icons of beauty and virtue—as the only true Americans. It was an ideal that excluded not only blacks but also all ethnic groups not of Protestant, northern European background. The Irish and Native Americans were out and, later, so were the Chinese, Jews, Italians, Slavs, and Greeks—all deemed racially alien. Did immigrations threaten the very existence of America? Americans were assumed to be white, but who among poor immigrants could become truly American? A tortured and convoluted series of scientific explorations developed—theories intended to keep Anglo-Saxons at the top: the ever-popular measurement of skulls, the powerful eugenics movement, and highly biased intelligence tests—all designed to keep working people out and down. As Painter reveals, power—supported by economics, science, and politics—continued to drive exclusionary notions of whiteness until, deep into the twentieth century, political realities enlarged the category of truly American. A story filled with towering historical figures, The History of White People forcefully reminds us that the concept of one white race is a recent invention. The meaning, importance, and realty of this all-too-human thesis of race have buckled under the weight of a long and rich unfolding of events. 70 illustrations
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  1. Ms. Lisa L. Hardiman
    November 2nd, 2010 at 04:46 | #1

    Rating

    Great research that is enlightening on the racial issues of United States and Europe. This is a cultural foundation of this country.

  2. Randall
    November 2nd, 2010 at 18:02 | #2

    Rating

    Painter’s “A History of White People” is not really a history, it’s a review of literature from ancient Greece to modern times. Nor is it about white people, it’s about white racists. What she has really done is compile and review an historic list of racist thought and attempt to refute it. Unfortunately, she’s not even very good at that. Perhaps, given how easy it is to disprove and contradict racist thought, she didn’t feel the need to make much of an effort, but when an author chastises a European of the Enlightened Age who has attempted to categorize human beauty, and rather understandably does so by looking most fondly at the people who look most like him, the contradicting author needs to do disprove with more than the same techniques she decries as incorrect. Painter attacks several of the Europeans who attempted to classify and rank beauty for not looking beyond themselves, but her only real argument is that they left out people like her. A little more science and a little less hurt feelings would have made for a better book.

    It’s perhaps unfair to criticize too deeply a book that I didn’t finish, but it would be even more unfair to have waded through another 200 pages of this nonsense just to validate my review. I didn’t finish the book. Perhaps there was some excellent and well-considered thought further on. It didn’t seem so from the first 100 pages.

  3. OSIRIS THE KING
    November 3rd, 2010 at 07:58 | #3

    Rating

    this book was great. well researched. i thought she should have spent more time on the tribes of europe. thats what i thought i would read more of before i bought the book. the book is great and put together very well. a great follow up to this book in my opinion would be a book called the isis papers. there is nothing else i can say. you will not be disappointed from buying this book. i could say much much more about the book but i would be typing forever. peace…

  4. J. Brown
    November 4th, 2010 at 07:56 | #4

    Rating

    The History of White People presents, as my title suggests, is an unbalanced and, to my eye, uninformed readers of Emerson I’ve read. This is important because Painter calls Emerson the father of American race theory.

    Nell Painter does not grasp, or seem to want to grasp, the dialectical nature of Emerson’s work as she goes about building the case that he was the father of American whiteness theory. In a sustained passage, she says repeatedly that Emerson’s passages on fate and race are confused and multi-handed, that he contradicts himself, but that in the end he supports some kind of white racial ideology. Ms. Painter quotes from Emerson’s “Fate” and a related journal entry to prove her point. What Ms. Painter does not do is work with “Fate” as a whole. In it, to paraphrase a passage Painter used repeatedly to hammer her point home, Emerson wrote that races stripped from their land and forced by circumstance to move to America are prematurely used up in labor and turned into so much guano for American profit. This is hardly a celebration of Anglo Saxon virtues. Regardless, Painter says nothing about the concept of “Power” that appears a few paragraphs later in Emerson’s essay on “Fate.” Power, Emerson writes, can trump and overturn fate. In other words, races are not pre-determined to any genetic outcome. All people can seize power. DuBois certainly agreed with this. I would challenge Ms. Painter to find a black nationalist who doesn’t believe that Americans stripped Africans from their ancestral homelands, which destroyed their racial heritage (their culture), and which also enabled whites to treat African slaves like “guano.” This is exactly what Emerson is saying in Ms. Painter’s guano passage, a passage she’s obsessed with, but not obsessed enough with to actually practice the lost art of close reading the essay it comes from. Take our theoretical black nationalist to the next step, and I believe he or she would absolutely agree with Emerson that power is the key to overturning this seemingly inevitable fate of being treated like manure.

    Here, by contrast to Painter, is Emerson on Race in _English Traits_ making the exact same argument that contemporary social constructivists make — that there is divergence between people of a “race” that makes the concept of race itself cultural rather than genetic, and that makes nations themselves social constructs:

    “AN INGENIOUS anatomist has written a book to prove that races are imperishable, but nations are pliant political constructions, easily changed or destroyed. . . . The individuals at the extremes of divergence in one race of men are as unlike as the wolf to the lapdog. Yet each variety shades down imperceptibly into the next, and you cannot draw the line where a race begins or ends. Hence every writer makes a different count.”

    It looks to me like Emerson is the father of social constructivism, not racial essentialism. Emerson, with this in mind, goes on to describe English characteristics. Painter completely ignores the fact that Emerson begins this discussion with the caveat that everything he’s saying about national characteristics is contingent and instead repeats again and again that Emerson thinks the Anglo Saxon race is essentially real.

    If this is her treatment of Emerson–half-read, ignoring the dialectical nature of Emerson’s work and his tendency to show how Nature checks her tendencies at all turns, calling Emerson’s dialectical thinking “confusing” as if by way of confession–I can only imagine the veracity of the claims Ms. Painter makes about topics I’m not an expert in. She repeats a lot of academic cliches and shibboleths that are actually contested. For example, some historians have amassed large bodies of proof that white Americans didn’t invent race, but that they merely applied genetics to old habits of distinction. See, for example, _The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity_. Nonetheless, Ms. Painter repeats the (predictable, 1980s, post-structuralist-inflected, outdated, and disproven) cliche that racism itself is a white, American invention.

    To many readers, this book may come as a surprise, even a revelation. To those already schooled in academic identity politics, it will come as either a laudable criticism of whiteness or as a superficial gleaning of “Whiteness Studies” with all of its attendant, non-stop complaining about progressive white culture and the perceived lapses and failures of that culture. In other words, as yet another attempt to claim that white, progressive people like Emerson invented and perpetuated racism.

    What’s unfortunate about Emerson (getting back to the subject of my complaint) wasn’t his non-existent Eugenic theories. It was his turn toward nationalism and blood lust in his support of the Civil War, a war which caused more American deaths per capita than all of America’s wars combined. Regardless of Lincoln’s motives, half the war was fought by men driven by an ideal of freedom, singing “John Brown’s Body” along the way. Other individualist and anti-government abolitionists had solutions besides death and bloodshed. But not Emerson, who believed that American blood must be shed both to free the slave and to elevate American ideals. That, too, is both Emersonian and a central part of the history of white people.

  5. santiago garcia
    November 4th, 2010 at 08:07 | #5

    Rating

    At least someone has explained to me why one has white and white non Hispanic as racial categories

  6. A.D. Powell
    November 4th, 2010 at 19:13 | #6

    Rating

    The author gives a very distorted history of whiteness as a racial category. The ultimate racial question facing American elites has always been how to divide one “race” from another given the reality of racial mixture. Painter makes the false statement that a “one drop” rule forcing “blackness” on predominately white people has always been law in American. False! She has not read the latest research showing that, not only did antebellum states legally allow varying amounts of “black blood” into the “white race,” but “acting whiteness” or exercising the rights and social obligations of white people would raise people from “colored” to “white” even if the official “blood” quota was not met. The unenforceable “one drop” laws only came into existence (in SOME states) in the 20th century in connection with the eugenics movement. Instead of referencing excellent works on this subject such as What Blood Won’t Tell: A History of Race on Trial in America and Legal History of the Color Line: The Rise And Triumph of the One-drop Rule, Painter presents the worthless novel “Marie” as accurate history. If you want to read a detailed, accurate description of racial mixture and Creole society, the best book on the subject is White By Definition: Social Classification in Creole Louisiana.

    Painter mentions Josiah Knott but seems totally unaware of how his racist theory of “mulatto inferiority” was quoted into the 20th century by judges sentencing couples for breaking “miscegenation laws.” She does not understand how the existence of white slaves (both “mixed” and “pure)inspired and outraged the abolitionist movement and the nascent Republican Party. For that history, you can read The Forgotten Cause of the Civil War: A New Look at the Slavery Issue.

    The author barely spends time on Mexicans and other Hispanics, even though the issue of determining whether or not they should be considered “white” (despite both Indian and African ancestry)is essential to any history of “whiteness.” An excellent book on this subject is The White Scourge: Mexicans, Blacks, and Poor Whites in Texas Cotton Culture (American Crossroads, 2).

    It is important to know that even notorious racists like Walter Plecker (a name Painter SHOULD know)failed to force mixed whites to become “Negroes” when the intended victims resisted those efforts. The Melungeons are the prime example: Walking Toward The Sunset: The Melungeons Of Appalachia (Melungeons: History, Culture, Ethnicity, & Literature) and The Melungeons: The Resurrection of a Proud People : An Untold Story of Ethnic Cleansing in America.

    Anyone who has read Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Racewill be disgusted with the way it has been upstaged by Painter’s far inferior book. American immigration law’s obsession with determining when Asians can be called “white” should have been given a lot of attention. Read White by Law 10th Anniversary Edition: The Legal Construction of Race (Critical America Series).

    Painter’s book isn’t very good, but it has a big advertising budget. Let’s hope that someone else writes a really comprehensive history of “white people” and “whiteness.”

  7. Ajay H. Parghi
    November 6th, 2010 at 09:05 | #7

    Rating

    I found this book to be a wealth of information not usually talked about.The lady is black and free of any bias or political/racial agenda or any axe to grind. I am a naturallized immigrant here for 41 years but was utterly unaware of the facts and issues discussed . Political correctness and reluctance to discuss charged issues would have kept me ignorant of all this background. I can now better understand the way issues are framed in public speech.

    The sympathy the author harbours for the disadvantaged and poor whites is sincerely warm and heartfelt.The book is an education for this first generation American who is neither white nor black but loves both.

  8. George F. Simons
    November 8th, 2010 at 04:23 | #8

    Rating

    In current debates about immigration, not only in the USA but around the world, the dynamics of preference are rarely without an element of ethnic, racial or other cultural judgement in play. It is one of those areas of human interaction where perhaps, even knowing history well, we seem condemned to repeat it. In this masterful presentation, Nell Irvin Painter takes us through the history of the social construction we call “white people” or “whiteness.” It is a frightening passage over stormy seas where the bark of human nature has yet to reach safe haven. Concepts of race may be long debunked from a scientific perspective, but their historical and continuing impact on human thinking and social structures is very real. Their story has rarely been examined so thoroughly from the perspective of dominant culture as it is in this volume.

    A History of White People provides a coherent chronology of the creation, propagation and defense of “whiteness.” At the same time it clears up common misconceptions about the targets of racism. For example, despite the fact that that the term “race” is likely to generate an image of the oppression of people of color resulting from the African slave trade and colonialism, this is in reality only one manifestation of racial patterning in a very long story of how difference has been identified and exploited. Whiteness is about superiority and belonging, the creation and defense of privilege, and above all, the shaping of an ideology that has penetrated social structures, politics, economics, colonialism and warfare.

    While beginning her overview in classical times, Painter soon moves into the heart of the story, the development of the concepts of race and beauty in European thinking since the Renaissance. She then lands squarely at home, focusing on the continuity of these ideas and their consequences in the US American story. In North American history, most slaves, indentured folk, “degenerates” and cannon fodder have been white people who were not yet white. They were betimes described as the guano or fertilizer for the new nation, which was to be owned, managed and enjoyed by those whose identity was variously described as English, Saxon, Nordic, etc. These are the tall, fair, strong, brave and beautiful men (and their women) chosen and destined by God to lead, dominate and civilize the continent, the “real” Americans. The rest, “failed representatives of failed races,” deserved no lasting place in it.

    Whiteness in the USA, as Painter points out underwent several expansions as acculturated immigrant populations such as the Germans and then the Irish (often charicatured with ape-like faces) succeeded in penetrating the social structure to the point of “becoming white.” They were be followed in ensuing decades by newly whitewashed Slavs, Italians and Jews who had paid their dues as victims of racism before being allowed into the white club. Blacks and to a lesser degeee Native Americans and Asian Immigrants had no claim to citizenship for the greater part of US history, but served rather as the foil to the legitimation of those aforementioned groups who were becoming “white.”

    A good part of the book examines the development and propagation of racial superiority in science, philosophy, religion and popular thinking, everything from the collecting and measuring of skulls, employed overly long in nascent anthropology to determine racial superiority, to attempts to find genes and chromosomes to support differentition in the humanity by race and color. As the focus shifts to the continuation of the whiteness story in the USA, connections continue to be made to both British and continental figures in science and philosophy who shaped concepts of white superiority. Clifford Longley in Chosen People: The Big Idea that Shapes England and America documented well the sense of divine election which, no doubt, from the sermons of Cotton Mather to the radio broadcasts of Father Coughlin, strongly seconded the sense of God’s confirmation of the “white man’s burthen” as rooted in race.

    Examining the scientific community, Painter documents the uphill struggle to move anthropology away from deterministic natural causes for human racial identity in order to validate a role for envrionment and nurture in the shaping of human diversity. But the struggle begun by Franz Boas is not over yet, as even today’s newspaper describes how the scientific community is processing the newly discovered evidence that homo sapiens outside Africa shared genes with hairy homo neanderthalensis. Along with anthropologists, even today’s interculturalists can be inclined to define and look for ethnic traits from an essentialist perspective.

    At this point, I pause to note that the dynamics of race examined in this book are likely to cause shock and raise defensiveness. Some readers will be inclined to dismiss it as the work of a black researcher with an axe to grind. Nothing could be further from the truth. The History of White People contains no racial invective. but is a readable as well as scholarly presentation that credits important figures in European and US history with their legitimate accomplishments. At the same time it documents clearly where their thinking, research, writing, politics and actions produced, bolstered and enforced the kind of racial thinking and behavior that subsantially influenced their contemporaries and following generations.

    It may be hard for some to learn that heroes and icons of US history such as Thomas Jefferson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Sam Houston, Theorore Roosevelt, Henry Ford and countless others of power and influence clearly elaborated and supported attitudes and policies of racial superiority. Institutions of higher learning such as Harvard and Stanford were prime forces in the dessemination of scientific support for these attitudes. It would surprise many US Americans to know that the eugenic research and pricinples that drove Nazi genocide were to a great degree fabricated in the USA and even underwritten at times by the stateside economic barons before World War II. “Made in the USA” was, in fact cited as a defense by accused Nazis at Nuernburg.

    Painter’s is the sort of presentation that leads more to stunned silence than ringing applause. It is well written, well documented and well indexed. For intercultural professionals The History of White People raises questions about our basic assumptions and likely ethnocentricity as well as about the hegemony of our methodology. Do we perhaps still play an uncounscious role in the ongoing colonization still implicit in globalizing everything from education to management and commercial ventures? Humanity continues to wrestle with its racial understandings, and we who work at the interface of cultures need to concern ourselves with the balance between our own self esteem and the danger of adopting attitudes that demean others.

  9. joe samuels
    November 8th, 2010 at 11:14 | #9

    Rating

    GREAT READ WITH FACTS TO SUPPORT THE EFFORT TO UNDERSTAND THE UNSPOKEN TRUTH OF A PEOPLE TRYING TO UNDERSTAND ONE ANOTHER IN THE USA.

  10. Howard Jones
    November 8th, 2010 at 22:05 | #10

    Rating

    When looking obliquely at a stand of row-trees, you see a random grouping, a forest, dark and shaded from the sun. When you walk around and view them from new angles, the form materializes and the light shines down the open rows. Such it is with “The History of White People.”

    The book was well written, extensively researched, thought provoking and enlightening. Painter was almost completely successful in keeping her biases from soiling the book, probably more successful than most readers will be in interpreting the material she presents.

    Civilization has been built on the backs of subjugated peoples many of which have been white. The “lower races” of the past have been Celts, Italians, and countless others that are now part of the American mainstream. Painter puts that reality into perspective and helps her readers to take a step back and evaluate their relationships and belief systems as they exist in the 21st century.

    My wife and I read extensively and have come up with our own rating system of sorts. When one of us finishes a book, we tell the other it was either (1) a waste of time and better used in a trash container, (2) a book of value, but worthy of only a detailed verbal book report and summary or (3) an extremely valuable read to which justice can’t be done verbally, i.e., a “must read yourself”.

    My wife is now reading “The History of White People,” Nell Irvin Painter’s excellent book.

  11. Amazonian
    November 9th, 2010 at 04:44 | #11

    Rating

    I managed to get through the first 100 pages, but no more. Each chapter contained a fascinating tidbit of history, but it was surrounded by so much background information that it left a casual reader unsatisfied. By the time I reached Chapter 7, I wished I were reading Painter’s outline instead of the book. Clearly, Painter did her research, so I’m confident scholars will find much in this book to build upon.

  12. Todd Bartholomew
    November 10th, 2010 at 06:29 | #12

    Rating

    At first blush readers may be a bit off-put at a black woman writing a history of white people and the usual questions are likely to arise. But as a historian it is Nell Irvin Painter’s job to transcend identities such as race and gender and to remain objective about her subject matter. There are many compelling arguments about the relative pros and cons of writing about a part of your identity or about an identity other than your own. Those arguments aside, Painter sets an ambitious goal of writing a history on the construct of the white race; the who, what, where, when, why and how of its origins, its evolution and change over time, and its greater societal significance and meaning to our present day and age. Rather than an angry diatribe against racism Painter seeks to provide a narrative of the evolution of white identity.

    Painter begins in antiquity, a time in which race was not important so much as place; where you were from, a time of social hierarchy and class more so than racial consciousness. The disturbing truth is that class served more to define one’s status and place than ethnicity or race for many centuries. Slavery, the great sin of any age, was racially colorblind in antiquity, and even in colonial America it was initially colorblind if indentured servitude is included. Painter guides readers through the evolution and construct of whiteness leading up to the harsh realities of the 19th Century, a time where whiteness took on further nuances, differences, and distinctions owing to increased immigration. It was a time when the Irish, Italians, Jews, and “others” were denigrated for their otherness; for not fitting the Anglo-Saxon ideal of whiteness. These ideas and concepts linger in American consciousness and inform public policy and public opinion for nearly a century, resulting in some of the most egregious sins of the republic, including the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, the exclusion of Asians from immigration, anti-Semitism and more. By the time of the Civil Rights Movement whites felt increasingly under attack, becoming the “other” in their own society. If Malcolm X and James Brown could exhort blacks to proclaim “Say it loud! I’m black and proud!” then why couldn’t whites revel in their own racial pride? And here’s where it gets interesting. Painter’s argument is that a nation, founded by slaveholders with justification for its class system based upon the inherent inferiority of black people a foundational belief, must reach some form of reassessment of what it should be once slavery has ended. That process has hot yet fully occurred in the United States and until such a time remains unfinished business for us to move forward.

    The end result is thought-provoking, certainly controversial, and more into the realm of history of ideas than most lay people will be comfortable with. Many will undoubtedly be offended by what Painter has to say, but her point is not to provide a hagiography of a race, but to examine the larger meanings of what race is, what it means, and how it shapes us as a people and a society. The results are meant to be unsettling and to initiate further thought, contemplation and introspection. To that end Painter succeeds wonderfully. This is meant to be a challenging and polarizing book and quite honestly those who make it through will be rewarded for it. Undoubtedly many will find points to contend and debate, but they will miss the larger argument.

  13. S. Davis
    November 10th, 2010 at 16:11 | #13

    Rating

    It is very interesting to me that the fact that the author is Black gives readers pause or prompts a question as to “why” she is writing about white people. Haven’t white people (educators or otherwise) been writing about people of color throughout our history. No one ever seems to question their ability to articulate their research or the validity of their perspective.

  14. Josef Porteleki
    November 12th, 2010 at 03:55 | #14

    Rating

    I love history and I have found this book as vital knowledge that everyone should know and have. I believe that I know much but now have learned many more things and understand so much more because of the fine work in this book. I can only say one would be sorry if they did not read this book! I thank the author!

  15. John D. Cofield
    November 16th, 2010 at 08:49 | #15

    Rating

    The History of White People is an ironic title because, as Nell Irvin Painter ably demonstrates here, “whiteness” is a term subject to many interpretations through the centuries. Beginning with the Greeks and Romans and continuing to the present, Painter analyzes the attitudes held by master peoples towards those whom they subjugated, enslaved, or at least considered themselves to be dominant over in some form.

    The book’s best sections deal with the development of racial attitudes in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when Europeans, seeing themselves newly dominant over the rest of the world, attempted to find some biological rationale for their preeminence. Painter’s descriptions of the bizarre “scientific” theories dealing with hair texture, skull sizes and shapes, height, and so on would be laughably absurd if those same theories had not led to the development of eugenics in the late nineteenth century. In turn eugenics in the twentieth century led to forceable sterilization of the “unfit” and other horrors, culminating in the Holocaust.

    Painter writes well, with an occasional wry grimace and shake of the head. Her last chapter is one of the best, for here she gives a summary of the current state of “whiteness” in a world where DNA analysis and the mapping of the human genome have so muddied the waters that one wishes J.F. Blumenbach, William Z. Ripley, and other “scientists” who tried so hard to identify one race as superior to all others could be alive to see their work brought to naught.

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