When Affirmative Action Was White

An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America

Ira Katznelson (Author, Columbia University)

Overview | Inside the Book

A groundbreaking work that exposes the twisted origins of affirmative action.

In this "penetrating new analysis" (New York Times Book Review) Ira Katznelson fundamentally recasts our understanding of twentieth-century American history and demonstrates that all the key programs passed during the New Deal and Fair Deal era of the 1930s and 1940s were created in a deeply discriminatory manner. Through mechanisms designed by Southern Democrats that specifically excluded maids and farm workers, the gap between blacks and whites actually widened despite postwar prosperity. In the words of noted historian Eric Foner, "Katznelson's incisive book should change the terms of debate about affirmative action, and about the last seventy years of American history."

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • August 2006
  • ISBN 978-0-393-32851-6
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 272 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“A fresh, highly readable, first-rate history.” — Sanford D Horowitt, San Francisco Chronicle

“A penetrating new analysis.” — Nick Kotz, New York Times Book Review

“Ira Katznelson has made a major contribution to the affirmative action debate.... [His] book makes as strong a case as I have ever seen for vigorous action to bring about equal opportunities for African-Americans.” — George M. Frederickson, New York Review of Books

“A gem of a book.” — David Oshinsky, The Nation

“Katznelson’s explosive analysis provides us with a new and painful understanding of how politics and race intersect.” — Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Also by Ira Katznelson All

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  2. Book CoverPolitical Science: State of the Discipline

    Centennial Edition / Paperback

  3. Book CoverThe Politics of Power: A Critical Introduction to American Government

    Seventh Edition / Paperback

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