In This Review

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide
By Carol Anderson
Bloomsbury, 2016, 256 pp.

In this year of populist backlash, media coverage has often focused on the anger that ordinary white Americans feel over economic and demographic changes they see as threatening. Anderson reminds readers that white rage has a long history in the United States and that it has frequently come in response to black progress. Her book tells the story of Reconstruction and Jim Crow in harrowing terms, using specific incidents of white violence against blacks to personalize the horror. She looks to the northern states as well, showing how white mobs viciously attacked middle-class black families who tried to buy homes in white neighborhoods. Anderson writes as a passionate advocate rather than as a dispassionate historian, and at times, she undermines her own credibility, as when she links the genesis of the crack epidemic to Reagan administration efforts to fund the Nicaraguan contras. Nevertheless, for readers who want to understand the sense of grievance and pain that many African Americans feel today, White Rage offers a clearly written and well-thought-out overview of an aspect of U.S. history with which the country is still struggling to come to terms.