George Fredrickson is one of this country’s most prolific and influential historians of race relations and racial thought. His earliest book in this area, The Black Image in the White Mind: The Debate on Afro-American Character and Destiny, 1817-1914 (1971), was a pioneering study of the construction of racialist ideas, North and South, in the nineteenth-century United States. He followed with an equally timely but even more ambitious work, White Supremacy: A Comparative Study in American and South African History (1981), an exploration of the deep histories of institutionalized segregation in both societies. Black Liberation: A Comparative History of Black Ideologies in the United States and South Africa is in many ways a sequel to White Supremacy, though it can easily stand on its own.
Fredrickson is by no means the first scholar to glimpse the logic of comparing race relations in the United States (and especially the Southern United States) and South Africa. After all, the almost simultaneous emergence of draconian systems of white domination during the late nine- teenth and early twentieth century in societies...
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