A tour de force work by a leading scholar, Race Is a Four-Letter Word explores the history of the concept of race in America, the reasons why the concept has no biological validity, and the ways in which it grew to become accepted as an idea that virtually everyone regards as self-evident. An ardent and eloquent opponent of typology, essentialism, and stereotyping, C. Loring Brace has based this engaging study on the Problems of Race course that he has taught at the University of Michigan for the past thirty-five years.
Opening with an explanation of why the concept of race is biologically indefensible, Race Is a Four-Letter Word shows how the major elements of human biological variation have unrelated distributions and cannot be understood if the existence of races is assumed as a starting point. The book then examines the course of events that created the concept of race, journeying through time from Herodotus through Marco Polo; to the Renaissance and the role of the New World; on up to the American Civil War, the curious results of the alliance switch in World War I, Arthur Jensen, The Bell Curve, J. Philippe Rushton, and the Pioneer Fund in the twenty-first century.
Ideal as a supplementary text in anthropology courses, Race Is a Four-Letter Word can also be used in history of science courses and sociology courses. It is captivating reading for professionals and anyone else who seeks enlightenment on the socially debatable issue of race.