• Title: The History of White People
  • Author: Nell Irvin Painter
  • ISBN: 9780393049343
  • Page: 231
  • Format: Hardcover
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    The History of White People A mind expanding and myth destroying exploration of whiteness an illuminating work on the history of race and power Eminent historian Nell Irvin Painter tells perhaps the most important forgotten stor
    A mind expanding and myth destroying exploration of whiteness an illuminating work on the history of race and power Eminent historian Nell Irvin Painter tells perhaps the most important forgotten story in American history Beginning at the roots of Western civilization, she traces the invention of the idea of a white race often for economic, scientific, and political enA mind expanding and myth destroying exploration of whiteness an illuminating work on the history of race and power Eminent historian Nell Irvin Painter tells perhaps the most important forgotten story in American history Beginning at the roots of Western civilization, she traces the invention of the idea of a white race often for economic, scientific, and political ends She shows how the origins of American identity in the eighteenth century were intrinsically tied to the elevation of white skin into the embodiment of beauty, power, and intelligence how the great American intellectuals including Ralph Waldo Emerson insisted that only Anglo Saxons were truly American and how the definitions of who is white and who is American have evolved over time A story filled with towering historical figures, The History of White People closes an enormous gap in a literature that has long focused on the nonwhite, and it forcefully reminds us that the concept of race is an all too human invention whose meaning, importance, and reality have changed according to a long and rich history 70 illustrations.

    One Reply to “The History of White People”

    1. Fun Fact: When I typed in "History of White People" on search, their first result was not this book, but the Book of Mormon. I am not making this up. Try it and see. Somebody should tell our overlords to fix the Search Engine.The title is a provocation, and will cause many a stifled giggle or edgy remark in the bookstore. The author says right in the beginning introduction that "Constructions of White Americans from Antiquity to the Present" would be another more fitting title, and an accurate [...]

    2. Painter outlines an evolving story of whiteness (and construction of race) from ancient Greece to the present. The historical depth of this account was interesting, but it was most compelling when the focus shifted to the New World, especially 19th and 20th century America. Painter convincingly ties whiteness to what it means (or meant) to be a real American. She also shows how this identity converges with religion, patriotism and politics. Recommended read!

    3. Like many other racists, Gobineau had seemingly mastered the multilingual contents of entire libraries to formulate a universal truth that energetic races, certainly the Aryan, create national greatness. Preaching empire and racial cleansing in the name of science in National Life from the Standpoint of Science (1905), [Karl] Pearson said, "[M]y view—and I think it may be called the scientific view of a nation—is that of an organized whole, kept up to a high pitch of internal efficiency by i [...]

    4. Race is a social, not a scientific, construct. This book is the most thorough exploration of how it came about beginning with classic Greek and Roman thoughts on the subject and proceeding through history to the modern day. Particularly fascinating are the various ways in which the desirable race--not just white but initially Germanic, Anglo-Saxon, or Nordic--has been enlarged in various stages to include some so that others might be more forcibly excluded.This is not an easy book to read, and i [...]

    5. From the bookCan the average man win political office without the backing of Superpacs?Does poor=slaves and rich=mastersThe many ways slavery can be identified today.―minimum wage ―welfare ―religious fighting to force their values on others ―inability to get a fair trail―The rich making rules for the non-rich―Men’s attitudes concerning womenAuthor Nell Irvin Painter did an extraordinary job in researching The History of White People from Antiquity to the present. The History of Whi [...]

    6. Yikes -- I know, the title of this book sounds vaguely Nazi-ish, but it couldn't be further from that. Nell Painter is a professor at Princeton, and is a black woman. Her book covers the historical concept of "white" -- where it came from, who's been "in" and "out" of that category over the centuries, etc. Chances are, if you count as "white" in America in 2011, not all of your ancestors were -- over the course of the last couple of thousand years -- also "white" according to the thinking of the [...]

    7. As a policy debater, I've always enjoyed reading critical studies of race — and Painter's examination of "whiteness" is a great example of critical investigation into the assumptions that underlie the status quo.The History of White Peopleprovides a lot of interesting insight into what it means to be white and how being white has become accepted as an enshrined status quo good. It also leads us as as readers to wonder, "Is this how it will always be?"Like any good book should,The History of Wh [...]

    8. This was very disappointing, especially since it came from the highly respected scholar Nell Irvin Painter. Whether she intended the ambiguity in the title or not, I don't know. The history of white people could mean a history chronicling the activities of people who thought of themselves as white, or of those who have been thought of as white. It also could mean that it's a history of the concept of "white" as an anthropological or social category. Or, it could mean that it is a history of peop [...]

    9. As we all have been told, history should not be just one darned thing after another. I’ve seen this attributed to several in various contexts, including Arnold Toynbee and Edna St. Vincent Millay, who would have it worse, that it should be one darned thing over and over. Well, whoever said this needs to be told that such histories make for dull reading.There are two kinds of histories I like. The first presents a single story in one, big, sweeping, inevitable arc. The second sort presents itse [...]

    10. The primary takeaway from The History of White People is that whiteness, and the entire construct of race, is like a really recent thing.Of course I had heard this before, but for some reason, the gravity of this fact never really registered for me before reading this book. That force of nature we call race, with whiteness at the center of the shit storm, is like a 100% made up thing, and not even that long ago.Dude!This is not to say that difference isn't real, or that culture is trivial. No no [...]

    11. “Evolutionary biologists now reckon that the six to seven billion people now living share the same small number of ancestors living two or three thousand years ago. These circumstances make nonsense of anybody’s pretensions to find a pure racial ancestry.”I have had a really good reading year. I am, once again, mostly retired and my reading list shows this. I have not only had time to read, but time to concentrate on some tough subjects. My brain is willing to slow down and try to understa [...]

    12. This book really ought to be called "The Construction of Race in America," but a bold title like "The History of White People" is catchier - heck, I checked out the book. Author Nell Irvin Painter starts with a very quick survey of pre-American concepts of race in Europe. Romans didn't classify people by skin color, but rather by tribe and region, we learn. As mainstream European views evolved for several centuries, they often fixated on groups of people, but rarely with a concept of "race" like [...]

    13. As someone who did historical research on the concept of perceived race and race perceptions regarding "whiteness," this is one of the most important and comprehensive books written on the subject in the last decade. Painter covers a broad historical range, but focuses mainly on American perceptions of whiteness. While I'm sure European perceptions have changed throughout time, America presents the ideal catalyst for changing perceptions of race, etc. This book is filled to the brim with informa [...]

    14. "Race is an illusion. But racism is real." These words most closely capture the essence of this important book. By tracing the ever-changing concept of race and "whiteness" through history, Painter unveils the tortured path that has led us to the irrational racial paradigm widely accepted in the U.S. of the 21st century. For those who think White, Black, Asian and Hispanic are "races," this book is a must-read. Unfortunately, this includes the bulk of today's journalists, educators and media pro [...]

    15. This book is a fascinating account of the history of definitions of "whiteness," emphasizing the relatively recent orgin of a unified white race as a construct, and the fluid lines regarding who is or is not part of the white identity. Although written in an accessible style, Painter is an academic historian who cites her primary sources throughout the book, and the writing has a scholar's detatchment and factual tone throughout. As a historian, Painter does tend to avoid digging into the sociol [...]

    16. Do you think you're white? If your ancestors came from the western side of the British Isles, France, Spain, or southern Germany, little more than a century ago you would not have been considered white. Irish? Italian? Jewish? Most definitely not. African-American? Asian? Native American? Off the charts and beyond consideration. Painter documents centuries of scientific inquiry--measuring skull size and shape, eugenics and social Darwinism, intelligence testing, all of which were bent to confirm [...]

    17. When my kid was three, he came home from preschool and rattled on prosaically about a new friend who had just started school. Then he got poetic; his new friend wore a red shirt, had curly hair and his skin was colored with a different crayon.That's all race is to my kid; a matter of pigment.Nell Irvin Painter's book, boldly and sensationally entitled A History of White People makes this same point but with many (many) more words and a lot of history backing it up. Her main point seems to be "Wh [...]

    18. Being personally a descendant of the Vikings (on my father's side) and conquistadors (maternally), on one fine autumn day in the fourteenth year of the postracial 21st century I decided to settle down with a glass of wine and have a nice reminisce about the glory days when my people still held the power in this country. Fellow Americans, I recommend you pick a stronger drink.The book gets off to a bit of a slow start, talking at first about long forgotten times (antiquity, when skin color wasn't [...]

    19. "And in the genetic sense all people-and all Americans-are African descended." P. 391To recognize in 2014 that race was/is a social construct, does not take an abundance of mental capability. So perhaps the book is mis-titled, it is not a history of white people per se, but more a look at how the notion of whiteness became a symbol of power and privilege. To the author's credit she admits as much in her opening sentence, "I might have entitled this book Constructions of White Americans from Anti [...]

    20. Nell Irvin Painter‘s most recent text, The History of White People, dives deeply into the concept of race. With a solid foundation in the research, Painter attempts to find out when, why, where (and by who) humans began differentiating themselves by skin color. It felt more like a journey than anything else: Painter cuddled me into a time machine that dated back to Ancient Greece where it is confirmed that human beings were (once upon a time) identified solely based off of geographical locatio [...]

    21. I'd picked up Painter expecting, in retrospect, something more of a timeline of social movements and attitudes. Like, say, Irish people became White in 1920, Jews in 1950. Instead, it's an intellectual history of the U.S./American idea of whiteness, with a prologue on ancient attitudes toward the Circassian or Caucasian "types" as a grounding for modern race theory. The archive Painter is working from, full of French and German and New England aristocrats holding forth on the value of good breed [...]

    22. While Painter's subject is ultimately race in America, she starts in ancient times and works through centuries of racial theory. I have to say that her sarcasms about some of the inane "race" theorists and theories are pretty gentle; I don't think I could have been so even tempered. But her overall portrait is balanced and fair. While I knew she was African-American (if one can use the term after her totally smashing of race theories!) from seeing her head shots on other books I've read, she cou [...]

    23. I'll just quote from the review of Jpablobr: I think the importance of this book is how it raises awareness on these social constructs that are causing a social decay and drifting us into wrong paths. Racial issues (in terms of white, brown, black) generate lots of tension (rightly so) that lead to many stereotypes and taboos limiting the proper discussion and study of the subject. For example, science has to deal with these racial sensitive issues where justifying the relevance of this differen [...]

    24. Wow. This is an incredibly thorough and honest examination of how the concept of "race" has evolved throughout the history of Europe and the United States. As the title suggests, it focuses on "white people," in large part because they were the ones obsessed with trying to define and classify people into racial categories. It does a very thorough job of explaining why the concept of race has no scientific validity whatsoever (for example, documenting how various "race theorists" or attempts to c [...]

    25. An important read. This book was dense. Sometimes, I got bored. Mostly, though, I was totally enraptured by Painter's clear - and frequently, pointedly sardonic - layout of the history of the construction of whiteness. What always grabs me about historical non-fiction is seeing clear patterns play out in history, that are playing out in exactly the same way today, with very little current awareness that it has happened before. This book is a testament to the powerful tropes of racist thought con [...]

    26. Very interesting book about how arbitrary the term "whiteness" is, and how it is specifically defined to give privileges for some people and not for others. Sometimes a history of how people got so wrong-headed is important in debunking these notions.

    27. This is a difficult book for me to accurately assess, since I am trying to be objective regarding the book's content while also expressing my disappointed expectations. Objectively speaking, this book is a powerful scholarly work, a history of whiteness as determined by White Europeans. Painter delves into obscure European anthropological and sociological tomes on racial classification. This is part of why my interest started to wander; Painter spends way too much time on these European scholars [...]

    28. From antiquity to modern-day, Painter traces the history of the concept of whiteness. She identifies four periods of enlargement of the category in the U.S. The book is meticulously researched and well-written. It's a must-read for anyone doing antiracist work and scholarship.

    29. A sweeping, academic history. Extremely informative and though-provoking. I read a chapter each day so that I could really think on the issues discussed.

    30. Nell Irvin Painter’s “The History of White People” is a multi-millennial historical inquiry into the almost limitless human capacity to rationalize difference where none exists. Beginning with Herodotus and the Ancient Greeks through the European and American eugenicists of the early 20th century and sociologists of the mid-20th century, Painter explores the various arguments brought to forward by learned men (and women) to explain others who would seem to exist outside of one’s own rela [...]

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