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The History of White People

Nell Irvin Painter (Author)

Overview | Contents | Formats

A New York Times bestseller: “This terrific new book . . . [explores] the ‘notion of whiteness,’ an idea as dangerous as it is seductive.”—Boston Globe

Telling perhaps the most important forgotten story in American history, eminent historian Nell Irvin Painter guides us through more than two thousand years of Western civilization, illuminating not only the invention of race but also the frequent praise of “whiteness” for economic, scientific, and political ends. A story filled with towering historical figures, The History of White People closes a huge gap in literature that has long focused on the non-white and forcefully reminds us that the concept of “race” is an all-too-human invention whose meaning, importance, and reality have changed as it has been driven by a long and rich history of events.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • April 2011
  • ISBN 978-0-393-33974-1
  • 5.6 × 8.3 in / 496 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverThe History of White People


Endorsements & Reviews

“An insightful and lively exposition from a distinguished scholar.” — Linda Gordon, The New York Times Book Review

“Compelling, energetic, [and] highly readable.” — Alan Nadel, Philadelphia Inquirer

“[I]ntriguing and well researched. This is an important addition to the nascent academic field of whiteness studies, which examines the social construction of whiteness with particular attention to the American experience. It should be read by all historians and anyone with an interest in cultural studies.” — Library Journal

“One of the most important books ever on the social construction of the notion that there is a ‘white’ race.” — Tikkun

Also by Nell Irvin Painter All

  1. Book CoverExodusters: Black Migration to Kansas After Reconstruction


  2. Book CoverThe Narrative of Hosea Hudson: The Life and Times of a Black Radical


  3. Book CoverSojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol


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