Shame

How America's Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country
Narrated by: Randall Bain
Length: 4 hrs and 47 mins
Categories: History, Americas
4.8 out of 5 stars (512 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A prominent conservative scholar traces the post-1960s divisions between the Right and the Left, taking aim at liberals' victimization of African Americans and their failure to offer a viable way forward for American society. The United States today is hopelessly polarized; the political Right and Left have hardened into rigid and deeply antagonistic camps, preventing any sort of progress. Amid the bickering and inertia, the promise of the 1960s--when we came together as a nation to fight for equality and universal justice--remains unfulfilled.

As Shelby Steele reveals in Shame, the roots of this impasse can be traced back to that decade of protest, when in the act of uncovering and dismantling our national hypocrisies--racism, sexism, militarism--liberals internalized the idea that there was something inauthentic, if not evil, in the American character. Since then, liberalism has been wholly concerned with redeeming modern America from the sins of the past and has derived its political legitimacy from the premise of a morally bankrupt America. The result has been a half century of well-intentioned but ineffective social programs, such as Affirmative Action. Steele reveals that not only have these programs failed, but they have in almost every case actively harmed America's minorities and poor. Ultimately, Steele argues, post-'60s liberalism has utterly failed to achieve its stated aim: true equality. Liberals, intending to atone for our past sins, have ironically perpetuated the exploitation of this country's least fortunate citizens.

It therefore falls to the Right to defend the American dream. Only by reviving our founding principles of individual freedom and merit-based competition can the fraught legacy of American history be redeemed, and only through freedom can we ever hope to reach equality.

©2015 Shelby Steele (P)2014 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

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Great book.

Loved it. The most insightful book on the modern political and social state of America I have ever read.

7 people found this helpful

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An educated, insular perspective.

Steele lends a view of liberalism from the outside, a fresh take on the experience of straight black men in American institutions, and even a new means of understanding the backlash Democrats experienced from white America after the Civil Rights movement and Vietnam conflict. However, his well-heeled background pre-limits his ability to empathize with poorer black people. This, he may call an unwillingness to dissociate into relativism. The fear of this dissociation is misplaced, as it precludes him walking in other people's shoes. His coach, for example, likely felt ashamed and self-conscious at their interaction, but Steele could only see the power he held from his own point of view. Rather than appreciate the collective trauma of our country, Steele saw an opportunity for advantage. He fails to realize that the master's tools will not dismantle the master's house. Thus, his claim that white racism no longer poses a serious barrier to his black peers. True, there may not be a barrier to him and HIS peers, but to the poorer black community at large, he is not able to articulate their frustration because he has not experienced it first-hand. He will not take it onto himself, lest he dissociate like he did in the swimming pool when he realized he wouldn't swim competitively. He says it was a lack of passion and nothing else. If I may be so bold, I suspect it was the implication his exclusion at the party that a swimming career would be ever more difficult for him for his blackness. He denies this and even vilifies the term "blackness". But being only aware of propriety (what mother says, goes) and the flow of power in his young body, the lesson he took was one of cynicism. From then on, his has been a case of confirming what one believes by seeking the evidence that suits it. Being a black man and highly educated does help him to understand some of the machinations at work. Later chapters reflect on the dehumanization of racism. If only he could see the problem he tasted runs deeper and more insidiously than he could imagine.

5 people found this helpful

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Desperately needed on our campuses.

Listening to Steele’s profound defense of development over mere inclusion and freedom over mere performance for guilty whites, I wished that the hordes of diversity and inclusion officers would lend an ear. Steele goes to depths beyond the imaginings of hucksters like Coates and Dyson and by so doing fails to provide liberal whites what they most desire: absolution for the sins of others.

5 people found this helpful

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What’s NOT Said. Why the fear?

Each day as we are experiencing the protests. Peaceful & Violent, looting, destruction and the tearing down of statues and monuments, we are focused on racism and white guilt. Steele’s work looks at the ‘true’ causes that brought us all to this point. An extremely important read. I learned and considered several new concepts & contexts, kept a few and adopted some new ones. Retired school principal, counselor & teacher and 24 years in the USAR.

2 people found this helpful

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Is America: evil or hypocritical?

Are Americas sins of the past, and present, due to an inherent evil within America, or are these evils of oppression & slavery inherent within the human condition? Shelby argues that these sins managed to find a home in a land which promised to respect the inalienable rights owned by every human being. That America is not any more or less evil than any other first world nation, but that the civil rights movement brought this blatant hypocrisy to light. The question remains, do we abandon the principles of liberty & inalienable rights of all men because of this hypocrisy, or do we build upon the grounds gained and create an equal playing field for all races, genders & creeds?

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great book!

relevant and important book. loved the story about Clarence Thomas and his own experiences! A must read in today's uncertain times.

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Remarkable insight and excellent primer on modern racial history

Brilliant backgrounder on “How did we get where we are today on race in America?” with the 1960’s as a centerpoint. Written in 2014 but reads like he wrote it 15 minutes ago. Very pertinent in the midst of today’s cultural crises. I appreciate one of his early statements that his mission in the book is not to solve problems, but to build understanding—which is what so many of us lack. He stated that we already know the solutions: empathy, mutual respect, a willingness to listen.... Far from the heavy handed and proscriptive books and pedantic lectures grabbing today’s headlines, social media outlets, and broadcasts, the principals, ideas, and poignant stories leave us to think for ourselves.

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Thoughtful and Insightful

Anyone interested in a first hand view of racism in America should read this book. Weather you agree or disagree with his conclusions, you’ll appreciate his shared journey.

1 person found this helpful

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simple truth

love it, truth is always the right answer. why can't people understand something so simple.

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excellent understanding of the issues around race

loved each succinct argument. Now I have a better understanding and a path forward as a willing conservative.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Dan Luba
  • 08-31-16

An Epic Miniature Tome

A fascinating personal journey and a well crafted political history, all lazily folded into a book a Frenchman could read on his lunch break. It weaves together many strands very neatly to provide a lot of insight into the political currents of the last 70 years. I do think his ideas about feminism are a bit naive, but I guess that's not really his main concern.

This is an important book and its message needs to be taken seriously if we are to avoid the calamities that are brewing in American race relations in the modern era.

I would recommend Thomas Sowell's "Black Rednecks and White Liberals" as an excellent companion to this book.

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  • Michael O.
  • 06-24-20

Essential read for these crazy times

My take home message: Political correctness is the enforcement arm of poetic truth. Liberalism covets the responsibility for black problems, or the illusion of responsibility. Because there is moral and political power in the idea of delivering blacks from their tragic past. Their victimisation, past or present, should never spare them responsibility for their current problems. Responsibility for struggling with weaknesses caused by their victimisation ultimately falls on them.

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  • Nicky Beet
  • 08-08-16

Obnoxious

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Being a totally different fair and factually accurate book would help

What could Shelby Steele have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

The best thing he could have done would have been not to have written it

Would you be willing to try another one of Randall Bain’s performances?

Maybe

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Shame?

All of it.he seems to dispute that sexism racism with its police oppression and environmental destruction are a massive problem in america

Any additional comments?

America the free great and bold anointted to be that last best hope.totally rewrites history to make liberalism some kind of totalitarianism and only neo-cons are right and the vietnam war was truly heroic and the destruction of a country was done to help them(lol)
Is seriously the most absurd book i have ever heard and what one may expect of a 12yr old

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  • Doug H.
  • 07-16-20

History repeating itself

After finishing, you will be more informed about what is happening right now than 90 % of America