Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Patterson (history, Brown Univ., Grand Expectations) is eminently qualified to lead us through the saga of the Civil Rights movement as it relates to public education. The U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 1954 decision overturned a way of thinking that had persisted largely unchallenged since the end of the Civil War. A commonly accepted legal theory supported by an 1896 Supreme Court decision (Plessy v. Ferguson) was based, the author notes, upon archaic psychological theories that had been superseded by modern theory supporting a linkage between racial segregation and concomitant feelings of inferiority and damage to motivation and, hence, to learning. The author devotes the rest of the book to the tedious and thorny issues of implementation that he believes were needlessly protracted because the Court, in an effort to achieve unanimity and, feeling the need to placate the Southern states by abstaining from inflammatory rhetoric or threat of force, laid down only broad guidelines. The result, notes the author, is a process that has lately actually fluctuated back in the direction of permitting re-segregation in neighborhood schools where demographic changes resulting from private choice rather than public policy have produced a different racial mix. The issues are complex, profound, and ongoing, but the author provides balanced and extensive coverage. Recommended for academic and law libraries.DPhilip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Lib., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Patterson (history, Brown) has written a superb brief survey of the major Supreme Court decision attacking de jure racial segregation in public schools. He deftly covers the legal background of the case, the events and arguments surrounding the decision, attempts to implement it, and its continuing legacy. He draws sharply etched portraits of the leading players from Chief Justice Earl Warren to black petitioner Oliver Brown. Most impressively, Patterson does not merely catalog facts and write brief biographical sketches; he offers a provocative interpretation, arguing that desegregation--the removal of the legal separation of blacks from whites in public education--was the major positive result of the Brown decision. However, integration--the assurance that most public schools had at least some mixture of black and white students--was a much thornier issue that was not solved by the Brown decision. Patterson also gives voice to black opposition to integration, which helps make this well-written, very nuanced, and complex study simply the best short history of this topic. It belongs in all but the smallest libraries. A. O. Edmonds Ball State University
Author notes provided by Syndetics
James T. Patterson is an American historian, and Ford Foundation Professor of History emeritus at Brown University. He wrote "Grand Expectations: the United States, 1945-1974," which received the 1997 Bancroft Prize in American history. (The Bancroft prize is one of the most prestigious honors a book of history can received and was established at Columbia University in 1948. It's considered to be on par with the Pulitzer Prize because an anonymous jury of peers judges it.) "Grand Expectations" is an interpretation of the explosive growth, high expectations and unusual optimism that Americans experienced after World War II that went into the 1960's. It follows the social, economic and cultural trends, and foreign policy issues, which became less optimistic after the assassinations, the Vietnam War and Watergate. <p> (Bowker Author Biography)