Books about the History of Race in America: Background information when reading The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt

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The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt

A Novel

by Andrea Bobotis

The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis X
The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2019, 320 pages

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    Jul 2019, 320 pages

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About this Book

Books about the History of Race in America

This article relates to The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt

Print Review

In Andrea Bobotis' The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt, an affluent white woman nearing the end of her life in the 1980s takes stock of her family estate in Bound, South Carolina, while recounting the years she spent there as a child during the 1930s. The novel offers a riveting tale of family secrets, revenge, and, especially, racial oppression in the Jim Crow South. As the story unfolds, the narrator muses about how race relations in America have changed since the time of her youth. In this, the novel joins a growing body of work that thoughtfully probes the nation's sinister history of racism.

In recent years racial tension has reached frightening levels in the USA. In a February 2019 poll conducted by the Pew Research Centre, 58% of the public agreed that race relations are "generally bad" in the country; the same poll found that, at the same time, race is playing an ever-more important role in voter behavior. Race has moved to the center of the country's public discourse, and it's unsurprising that authors are eager to reflect on the role of race in American history.

The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt is fictional, but many groundbreaking nonfiction books about race relations in America have also been recently published. These titles fearlessly confront how entrenched racial oppression is in American culture, and they lucidly analyze the many forms systemic racism has taken in the nation, from slavery to mass incarceration. For those interested to learn more about the history of race, the following books are great places to start:

    Stamped from the Beginning
  • Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. The winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction, Stamped from the Beginning traces the complex history of racist ideas in America. In sharp prose, professor Ibram X. Kendi demonstrates that racist ideas arose not out of ignorance but in fact were created to rationalize deeply discriminatory policies and staggering inequality between social classes. Kendi examines the impact of racist ideas on American life through the lens of the biographies of five famous figures: Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois, and activist Angela Davis.
  • White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide. In this well-researched New York Times bestseller, professor Carol Anderson paints a harrowing portrait of a nation defined by white anger. Anderson convincingly argues that, since the time of the Civil War, white backlash toward African-American social advancement has directed the course of American history.
  • One Person, No Vote
  • One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy. Also by Carol Anderson, One Person, No Vote chronicles the troubling history of voter discrimination and suppression in America following the ratification of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution in 1870, which granted universal male suffrage. With painstaking attention to detail, Anderson lays out the many ways white supremacists have tried to disenfranchise African-American, Latinx, and Indigenous people over the decades. She ends on an inspirational note, however, in her call for renewed organizing and activism geared toward restoring the right to vote to all Americans, regardless of race.
  • The Color of Law
  • The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. One of Publishers Weekly's 10 Best Books of 2017, Richard Rothstein's The Color of Law exposes how the American government has knowingly imposed racial segregation on the nation's cities and suburbs since the start of the 20th century. Dismantling the idea that de facto segregation is responsible for America's racially homogenous neighborhoods, this groundbreaking study makes clear that the government has actively deployed a wide array of underhanded tactics to preserve segregation, including undisguised racial zoning, segregated public housing, state-sponsored racial terrorism, tax exemptions for segregated private institutions, and subsidies for contractors to build whites-only suburbs. The New Jim Crow
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. First published in January 2010, Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow helped kickstart public debate about America's longstanding practice of mass incarceration, which arose in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement's end. Across six comprehensive sections, the author critically analyzes the origins of the War on Drug and its disproportionate and devastating impact on communities of color. This book helped deconstruct the myth that, with Obama's election to the presidency, America had entered a postracial age, and it remains sadly relevant.

by Michael Kaler

Filed under Reading Lists

This article relates to The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt. It first ran in the October 2, 2019 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

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