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Black Rednecks and White Liberals

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  3,114 ratings  ·  362 reviews
This book presents the kind of eye-opening insights into the history and culture of race for which Sowell has become famous. As late as the 1940s and 1950s, he argues, poor Southern rednecks were regarded by Northern employers and law enforcement officials as lazy, lawless, and sexually immoral. This pattern was repeated by blacks with whom they shared a subculture in the ...more
Hardcover, 372 pages
Published June 1st 2005 by Encounter Books (first published April 30th 2005)
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 ·  3,114 ratings  ·  362 reviews

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Vannessa Anderson

It’s not often that a reader opens a work of non-fiction and the words written on the first page has such an impact that it smacks the reader so hard the reader has to rub his/her cheek to soothe the blow.

This is the impact I felt with Black Rednecks and White Liberals. The first page drew me in and made it a challenge not to call work and say I wouldn’t be in because I didn’t want to put the book down.

What I liked about Black Rednecks and White Liberals is that it reinforced what I already knew

Dec 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Fantastic approach to race and discrimination. I enjoyed his research about the roots of "redneck culture" originating in Scotland and other fringe areas of the Brittish Empire.

I thought the views on "middle-men minorities" and "segregated schools" were especially insightful. He approaches every topic with a balanced yet incisive perspective.

For example, he forgives Washington's slave ownership. He reminds us that men of fortune during the colonial period viewed their family fortunes as
Douglas Wilson
Dec 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Dense. Thorough. Balanced. Eye-opening. Magnificent.
Apr 26, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Update, 2018: I used to give blahblah like this the benefit of the doubt as a “conversation starter” but given the obvious and real current dangers of BS, I’m lowering the rating to 1*. Please see comment stream for additional details.

This can be a good conversation starter, but it has flaws.

One of the main excuses Sowell brings up over and over for why whites in the South wouldn't end slavery is that they were afraid of a race war because of the rebellion on Santo Domingo (Haiti). What he
Don Fox
Mar 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Wow, what an achievement. Though a more accurate title might have been "Essays in Ethnology", "Black Rednecks and White Liberals" consists of six amazing essays, which collectively constitute the best book I've ever read. Every page presents startling, important, and little known facts that are apparently little known because they contradict the prevailing narrative about race and ethnicity. Did you know, for example, that:

* "...labor force participation rates were higher among non-whites than
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's beyond my ability to relate to the review readers the hefty substance of this book.

The research and the source material alone are treasures, but the encapsulation of these subject (chapter headings) all combined and with threads in the dozens that entwine each other! Beyond my ability to sufficiently describe. How different cultures have formed over centuries and movements and have keep their original cultures in stronger flavors than the original populations that stayed "put". That alone
Tammy McNiel
WOW! This book was a complete eye-opener and changed how I viewed the history of slavery and blacks in America. As a white person, I'm shocked, appalled and relieved at the same time.

What my intuition told me was wrong about massive social programs was vocalized and backed up by facts for me with this book. A lot of what I thought about slavery and oppression was turned on its head. I was appalled that I was never taught ANY of this in school, and I have extensive college education. What I
Steven Percifield
Jul 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A few years after reading "A conflict of Visions" by Sowell a friend of mine (who is African-American) recommended this book to me. We had been debating our individual impressions of racial relationships between black and white friends. I had made the comment that there were "archetypal motiffs" common to persons on both sides of the color line.

Although my friend agreed with me "...on average," he suggested that I read this book as it would give me a new perspective of a black intellectual's
Bob Anderson
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book is a collection of a few long essays from Sowell, an economist of some fame, and of special value to conservatives because he is an African-American conservative intellectual. I’ll be discussing only the first, titular, essay in this book, because it’s the one I was most interested in. I think it’s fair to judge a book on its most advertised section, don’t you? Sowell’s thesis here is that nearly all of serious problems facing black Americans today come from a culture they shared ...more
Philip Maher
Nov 23, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The book is a perfect example of confirmation bias, as the author starts with a conclusion and gives cherry-picked facts to support it. Indeed, what he calls facts are actual facts, but one should think critically of them. If I formulate a hypothesis that the sun revolves around the earth then I can state the supportive observation that the sun moves across in the sky, certainly a fact. We obviously know that my original hypothesis is wrong but I use this example because this book is littered ...more
Kevin Heldt
Jan 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Okay, this guy is a stud. I love the rare academic who will actually shoot straight with you. This was a collection of 6 refreshingly incisive essays that systematically debunked many of the pet beliefs and agendas of today's intelligentsia.
Laila Kanon
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-non-fiction
While I don't have favourite author per se, I must admit over the years, Thomas Sowell's writings have strong influence on my way of thinking, such as the wisdom to be critical on how an argument is packaged and presented particularly those by politicians, academia and experts, and above all--facts matter. Of all Thomas Sowell's books that I read thus far, this book is one that resonate the most to me, it's has global relevance even though the focal point of this book was an America's theme.
Leslie Wiewel
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-audio-books
Fascinating review of historical race data with bold, honest evaluation from an astounding mind
Void lon iXaarii
Nov 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
I tend to follow experts in their fields... which often doesn't translate to other fields, as many people successful in one field turn out to be not that knowledgeable or skilled in another. Thomas Sowell is, for me, one of the few exceptions i know of. I Started reading his books because of his economics knowledge but i can so relate to his way of viewing the world that I can't stop following his books even when they're not directly in the field. Why? Because unlike many others he doesn't take ...more
This is an amazing book! I am saddened that I had no idea that this author even existed before picking up this book. Maybe he is not widely known because his opinions are "unpopular"? This book is not concerned with "feelings" or with pleasing the ego of the reader. It is a hard read and left me thinking and re-thinking a lot of my own stands on many issues. It can be now clearly seen how 3rd wave feminism is only harming and not helping. This book relies on facts, scholarly publications, ...more
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing

There's not much more that I can say about this book other than 'woah'.

This was my first time through this book and I listened to it. The reader was great. Good on you Blackstone Audio for producing such a gem. On the other hand...I'm probably going to go buy this book, possibly in hard was that good and that intense. Just listening through it once was akin to dipping my toe into the ocean. There is a whole lot of information that I still can't wrap my mind around. I quoted half
Wade Stotts
Wonderful. Essential.
Exellent argumentation and general tone. Typical Sowell, one of my favourite non-fiction authors.
Jan 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
I respect that Prof. Sowell is trying to make a complicated point for a general audience, but so much of the language in this book, language that comes from Prof. Sowell and NOT from his sources, seem better placed in a high-school English essay than in a book. I made it through about 10 pages before I stopped, mostly because I couldn't trust what I was reading - how much of it was "fact", as Prof. Sowell seems all to glad to highlight at every chance he gets, and how much was the author's
Nov 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Gobsmacked. Excellence that should grace every home, every school, every library. Empirical evidence on a wide range of history that follows a common theme: the Redneck attitudes that are keeping down urban Blacks, why they are weighing down Blacks, their origin (shockingly, the Scottish Borderlands, the Ulster area of N. Ireland, and Wales--typically, at the time, reckless, shiftless people too proud to work until they had to), and how to dispel them.

Dr. Thomas Sowell takes us on a
Sep 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Adam was telling me about this book, and about the amazing man that is Thomas Sowell. Read his bio -- he's led a very interesting life. It's interesting that many of the "undesirable" qualities of the South, e.g. working to feed the family when needed, rather than having a steady work ethic and income, may have come from original settlers from wilder areas like Ulstead County, Ireland, and Wales, and Northern Scotland, where many of my ancestors are from! (Back in the 17th-18th centuries, they ...more
Randall Jackson
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
A woeful attempt in painting with the brush of a simple explanation to cover a complex social issue. The reader must first accept the authors's openly prejudiced view of southern Whites, then the reader must extrapolate that view to Black culture to be able to agree with his conclusions. This scholar, beforehand, states that his views which are commonly discussed among scholars and academia, would be hardly heard by the lay person. The proclamation itself is proof that he is not in touch with ...more
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Too bad this book is unlikely ever to be required reading in American high schools or colleges. It's scholarly, thoughtful, objective - far from the superficial, agenda-driven treatment that's being handed out today. If you read "Under Our Skin" (, be sure to read this, too. Or skip that one and just read this one.
Chris Niessl
Apr 01, 2017 rated it liked it
I initially wanted to read this book to gain a conservative economist's view on history, specifically on the 18th through 20th century, in order to broaden my beliefs not only racially, but also to try and understand a well though-out and articulated conservative perspective (Sowell himself would prefer the term 'libertarian' over 'black conservative') Sowell's analysis in each of the essays in his book is very broad, each one containing hundreds of citations. In each one I found that I could ...more
Dec 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Thomas Sowell's provocatively-titled Black Rednecks and White Liberals casts a critical eye toward conventional understandings of race, class, and history, collecting a half-dozen extensive essays in one volume. Although each essay is written as a standalone piece, some concern common subjects and refer to one another. Sowell principally writes on African-Americans and Jews here, aside from an apologia written on Germany. His central argument essentially blames the welfare state for the ...more
Richard Ripamonti
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
If Universities propagated a bit less Butler, Said, and Foucault and a bit more Sowell; they and the world would be a better place.
Sep 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
I would've made this book a five star, but found that some of the opening essays regarding crackers and the history of northern England dragged a bit.
What picked up this books for me where the essays on the history of African-American education in the United States, the history of middle man racism (racism against those who play a middle-man role in society) and the history of Germany and the impacts of Nazism of people's attitudes towards the German people.
Picking one of these in particular,
David Robins
May 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Another excellent collection of essays. Eye-opening as usual - the title essay is especially enlightening: much of black culture that is negative actually comes from Southern whites which in turn came from border regions of England and Scotland: those areas have since improved their education, speech, manners, and so on, but the detrimental parts of their culture survives among poor blacks. Calling an interest in education "acting white" is an insult to the many black educational pioneers that ...more
An Idler
Aug 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sowell acknowledges the unattainability of perfect objectivity in a historian, but decries the use of that fact as a red herring for outright dishonesty. What follows is an honest accounting of the realities of minority histories in the United States and abroad. This accounting takes the form of an onslaught of facts from which propositions are extracted, implications summarized, and possible contradictions considered. Sowell does not make an apologia for slavery, conquest, or oppression, but ...more
Frederick Glaysher
Dec 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Thomas Sowell. Black Rednecks. White Liberals. MCRI[return]November 28th, 2006[return][return]Thomas Sowell, Black Rednecks and White Liberals. Encounter Books, 2005.[return][return]Black RednecksThe approval by voters of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative corroborates Thomas Sowell’s observation in his Preface to the book, referring to “a growing willingness to consider views that differ from the racial orthodoxy that has prevailed largely unchallenged from the 1960s onward in intellectual ...more
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Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social commentator, and author of dozens of books. He often writes from an economically laissez-faire perspective. He is currently a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. In 1990, he won the Francis Boyer Award, presented by the American Enterprise Institute. In 2002 he was awarded the National Humanities Medal for prolific ...more
“It takes no more research than a trip to almost any public library or college to show the incredibly lopsided coverage of slavery in the United States or in the Western Hemisphere, as compared to the meager writings on even larger number of Africans enslaved in the Islamic countries of the Middle East and North Africa, not to mention the vast numbers of Europeans also enslaved in centuries past in the Islamic world and within Europe itself. At least a million Europeans were enslaved by North African pirates alone from 1500 to 1800, and some Europeans slaves were still being sold on the auction blocks in the Egypt, years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed blacks in the United States.” 26 likes
“No one chooses which culture to be born into or can be blamed for how that culture evolved in past centuries.” 6 likes
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