Shopping Cart Link

Wesleyan University Press

Sign up for our newsletter

Bookmark and Share
Cart link
Paperback add to cart

For Educators
View cart
Add exam ebook
Cover image

The American Kaleidoscope
Race, Ethnicity, and the Civic Culture
Lawrence H. Fuchs

1990 • 646 pp. 6 x 9"
Ethnic Studies / Cultural Studies / American Studies

$39.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6250-0
$31.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7244-8

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

“Marked by judiciousness and balance throughout, this is a definitive study of ethnicity in America.”—Choice

A leading authority's panoramic history compares the experiences of immigrant-ethnic groups, African-Americans, and Native Americans to each other and in relation to the national political culture.

Do recent changes in American law and politics mean that our national motto -- e pluribus unum -- is at last becoming a reality? Lawrence H. Fuchs searches for answers to this question by examining the historical patterns of American ethnicity and the ways in which a national political culture has evolved to accommodate ethnic diversity. Fuchs looks first at white European immigrants, showing how most of them and especially their children became part of a unifying political culture. He also describes the ways in which systems of coercive pluralism kept persons of color from fully participating in the civic culture. He documents the dismantling of those systems and the emergence of a more inclusive and stronger civic culture in which voluntary pluralism flourishes.

In comparing past patterns of ethnicity in America with those of today, Fuchs finds reasons for optimism. Diversity itself has become a unifying principle, and Americans now celebrate ethnicity. One encouraging result is the acculturation of recent immigrants from Third World countries. But Fuchs also examines the tough issues of racial and ethnic conflict and the problems of the ethno-underclass, the new outsiders. The American Kaleidoscope ends with a searching analysis of public policies that protect individual rights and enable ethnic diversity to prosper.

Because of his lifelong involvement with issues of race relations and ethnicity, Lawrence H. Fuchs is singularly qualified to write on a grand scale about the interdependence in the United States of the unum and the pluribus. His book helps to clarify some difficult issues that policymakers will surely face in the future, such as those dealing with immigration, language, and affirmative action.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“[A] sweeping catalogue of American ethnic experience [that] retrieves for us both the miraculous integrative triumphs of American democracy, and the persistent failures of our kaleidoscopic culture.”Washington Post Book World

“In a well-researched, compelling argument which questions the major scholarship of the last 20 years, [Fuchs] contends that ethnic diversity has defined the American character and fosters unity rather than divisiveness . . . should be closely read by all types of audiences.”—Library Journal

“This engrossing narrative offers guidance to concerned citizens and policymakers grappling with the persistence of bigotry and an ethnic underclass . . . A notable achievement.”Publishers Weekly

“Larry Fuchs is one remarkable citizen-scholar. He dares to ask and answer vexing and controversial questions about immigration, affirmative action, and language policy. What is this ‘civic culture’ that binds us as a single nation? Can it hold as we grow ever more diverse? Fuchs’ vast treasure of historical knowledge and his mastery of the topic makes this books most important and provocative reading for any person interested in the unique qualities of the American experiment.”Alan Simpson, U.S. Senator

“This fine and moving book combines a masterful account of America’s evolution into a multicultural society with an incisive analysis of the capacity of our ‘civic culture’ to preserve unum in the midst of pluribus. It is a rare work of scholarship and public responsibility, filled with wisdom and hope.”Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

The American Kaleidoscope is to the contemporary American ethnic landscape what Gunnar Myrdal's seminal work An American Dilemma was to racism -- a profoundly illuminating and important analysis of a significant component of late twentieth-century America. Larry Fuchs' great contribution is to show how each of the ethnic and racial groups that make up our country constitutes its own very special strand in the great national tapestry of American life, enriching and energizing us and, paradoxically, transforming diversity into a source of unity. Learned, yet written with verve and flair, Fuchs' study -- quite simply -- replaces everything that preceded it.”Stephen J. Solarz, U.S. Congressman

"A blockbuster, a comprehensive and compelling examination of the meaning of ethnicity in American history and society."Peter I. Rose, Smith College


Winner of the John Hope Franklin Prize (1991)
Winner of the Theodore Saloutos Award from the Immigration History Society (1993)
Winner of the 1992 Carey McWilliams Award from MultiCultural Review; A Choice Outstanding Academic Book.

Lawrence H. Fuchs, Meyer and Walter Jaffe Professor of American Civilization and Politics at Brandeis University, is Vice-Chair of the United States Commission on Immigration Reform. He was appointed by President Carter and the Congress as Executive Director of the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy. The Commission's 1981 report became the basis for the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, the first major reform of U.S. immigration policy since 1965. Fuchs frequently has testified before the House and Senate on immigration and refugee policy. He is the author of Family Matters (1973), American Ethnic Politics (1968), Those Peculiar Americans: The Peace Corps and American National Character (1968), John F. Kennedy and American Catholicism (1967), Hawaii Pono (1961), and The Political Behavior of American Jews (1955). He is also the originator and principal scholar of two texts, Black in White America (1974) and The American Experiment (1981).

Fri, 9 Nov 2018 09:29:08 -0500