Jennifer 's Reviews > The History of White People

The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter
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Jun 09, 10

bookshelves: nonfiction
Read in June, 2010

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 the notion that certain western Europeans where destined to rule the world. From the laughable--18th-century archeologists seemed unable or unwilling to see the paint on ancient Greek sculpture, so the ancient Greeks must have been "white"--to the monstrous extermination of the Jews and other "degenerates" of the Third Reich, Painter looks at racism through the prism of whiteness. Thorough end notes and indexing provide plenty of documentation without interfering with a fascinating read. Strongly recommended for patrons looking for meaty, but not dry, nonfiction.
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