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Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism | [James Loewen]

Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism

Sundown Towns examines thousands of all-white American towns that were - and still are, in some instances - racially exclusive by design.
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Publisher's Summary

Sundown Towns examines thousands of all-white American towns that were - and still are, in some instances - racially exclusive by design.

Professor emeritus at the University of Vermont, James W. Loewen won the National Book Award for his New York Times best seller Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong.

©2005 James W. Loewen; (P)2008 Recorded Books

What the Critics Say

"Deserves to become an instant classic in the fields of American race relations, urban studies and cultural geography." (Washington Post Book World)
"Sure to become a landmark in several fields and a sure bet among Loewen's many fans." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (41 )
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4.3 (20 )
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  •  
    Joe Kansas City, MO, United States 04-26-12
    Joe Kansas City, MO, United States 04-26-12 Member Since 2011

    I read science, biographies, histories, mysteries, adventures, thrillers, educationals, linguistics but not no way, not no how, romances.

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    "Powerful"

    I read a lot (thanks Audible!) and I have many books I have recommended because they were informative and surprising, many because they were simply entertaining, but I have rarely called a book "important". This one is.

    FIrst, I studied history in school and yet I had never heard of this pervasive and systemic history of racism in America. The thousands of towns and whole counties that Mr. Loewen uncovers and discusses is staggering. I never thought of the overwhelmingly white towns and suburbs I have traveled through in my life as having a history of being "all white on purpose", but I have been to some of the places he discusses. On top of that, his research is impeccable and the stories of violence, arson, lynchings and non-violent attempts to drive whole groups of people from whole areas of our country is staggering. To this day we live in a world shaped by the policies of these Sundown Towns. And we don't even know it.

    Secondly, he does not just make a case for the history of these events and he doesn't just examine how they existed and spread throughout mostly the NORTH of our country, he also strongly links this history of racism to effects in our daily lives TODAY. The overall socio-economic disparity of blacks versus whites in this country can be connected to these sundown towns. Their homogeneity relates to their continued segregation and prejudice. There is little more important in life than where you live (it relates to job opportunities, schooling for your children, social status, safety, crime and overall health).

    This book will change the way you view your own town, not to mention our country. It will ALSO affect how you think of current events. Consider this: he links how Sundown Towns and the White Flight of white people into homogenous suburbs (the vast majority of which were established to be or were quickly changed to be "all white on purpose) evolved into the modern gated community - which are mostly white. After this book was published George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin in a gated community. When I look at the unfolding news about this attack and the undercurrent of racism it implies I can't help but think that this would never have happened if there was not a history in this country of creating Sundown Towns and thus segregated gated communities. Again, this is my interpretation of events, not Mr. Loewen's (as the book was published BEFORE the shooting) but I think the two are connected.

    The narration is strong and the text can be a bit factually dense. But in the end this book will redefine history and current sociology for you. I cannot recommend this book enough.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Justin O. Gulley Decatur, IL 03-31-11
    Justin O. Gulley Decatur, IL 03-31-11

    formica45

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    "A required audiobook."

    This book was a meticulous study into how blacks were treated in the north after about the 1890's when much of the gains made after emancipation began to reverse themselves and blacks, although free, found themselves in encreasinly hostile territory as a result of white backlash. Primary documents along with first hand accounts of whites living during the time solidify the authors claims. It would be better to listen to this along with the actual book inorder that one may refer to the extensive notes that are not in the audio version.

    This book is inportant in that it helps us remember exactly how racist we were and may still be. Many people have a cartoonish view of what racism is, that it must be overt and blatant to qualify. However, although racism was quite overt in the period covered in this book, one can see how racism became more covert and subtle in recent times and how it hides in the structural and institutional realities today.

    A book not for the faint of heart.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Valentine Alexandria, VA, USA 12-26-08
    Valentine Alexandria, VA, USA 12-26-08
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    "Honest Reportage on American Racial's Shame"

    This is perhaps the best oral account and history of American racial shame. From former presidents to the American businesses, Loewen exposed the U.S. for atonement. This audiotape will make modern day racists look more like holocaust denials. Throughtout this audiotape, Loewen used facts, not assumption to buttress his objective point of views.

    Sundown Towns is a must read for anyone--both Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans who are seeking self-liberation.

    This tape will make you cry, and proud at the same time. We (as Americans) have a long way to go.

    Loewen, thank you!

    13 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Malcolm WATERLOO, IA, United States 03-08-13
    Malcolm WATERLOO, IA, United States 03-08-13 Member Since 2012

    A reader with an ear for historical biographies and autobiographies that seeks inspiration and consciousness from the reading experience.

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    "Not Ideal For the Audio Book Arena"
    Would you try another book from James Loewen and/or Norman Dietz?

    I would try another book by James Loewen. Norman Dietz was not a good nor poor narrator, but I could not form a strong connection with or identify with Dietz's reading style.


    What could James Loewen have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    This book is beneficial for public/official records only and preserving the history of how race influenced social conditions in the United States. It is far too long for an audio book, I strongly recommend this those interested in reading the actual physical book or e-readers.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Norman Dietz’s performances?

    No.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I am very familar with this subject with a strong historical knowledge on this topic and I was able to gain some threads of information that was new to me and increased my knowledge base. Those who are not well versed in this subject will have the opportunity to learn interesting facts in United States history in the late 1800's and the 1900's.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Villas, NJ, United States 01-23-12
    Robert Villas, NJ, United States 01-23-12
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    "How we lost the Civil War in the 1890's and beyond"
    Any additional comments?

    As much as some people would wish that American history is a story of how good we have become, there is still much work that needs to be done to bring about a society that lives up to its credo that all men (and women) are created equal. It is only by courageously facing the evil that has been done can we truly create a society with equality of opportunity.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Haines City, FL, United States 09-25-12
    Barbara Haines City, FL, United States 09-25-12 Member Since 2007
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    "I just couldn't get through it."

    I didn't enjoy this reader, and I didn't finish the book. Just couldn't do it.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David warren, AR, United States 07-30-08
    David warren, AR, United States 07-30-08
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    "Shock-Jock Racism at its worst"

    A hodgepodge of anecdotal evidence recounted with a complete lack of objectivity.

    If you believe America's racial problems are getting worse, not better, and need lots of hearsay evidence to "prove" it, this book is for you.

    I can't believe this book ever even got published, Loewen even uses sources like "gonnaviking", someone posting on an internet chat room, as a source.

    In summary, a huge pile of rubbish, based on tabloid journalism and far from the serious research and history this subject deserves.

    I would encourage the prospective purchaser to check out some of the other junk this author passes off as historical research first.

    Spend your money on one of the excellent, and quality selection in the history section here

    (feel free to msg me for recommendations, I've listened to most of the history titles here on Audible.com).

    9 of 42 people found this review helpful
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  • Tess
    Surbiton, United Kingdom
    1/5/11
    Overall
    "Needs a really good editor"

    I was interested in this book, having read another James Loewen book. However, this needs some serious editing to make it something you can finish. I must confess to having got bored with it, and considering the serious point he is making that doesn't make me feel good about myself.

    Sometimes you can make a better point by highlighting typical examples, rather than just endless lists. This takes away from the tragic nature of the way non whites have been treated in the USA of the past (and how this impacts the present and future). It is like listening to a lecture from your dad who just keeps saying 'and another thing'

    As I haven't managed to get past the first few chapters I may have to eat my words if I ever get to the end of the book. Given the serious subject matter I feel awful giving this such a low rating. It is something you feel you should know about but do they have to make it so dull?

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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