The History of White People

Author(s): Nell Irvin Painter

Cultural Studies

Beginning with the origins of Western civilisation, Nell Irvin Painter traces the invention of the idea of a white race-often for economic, scientific and political ends. She shows how American identity in the eighteenth century was intrinsically tied to the elevation of white skin into the embodiment of beauty, power and intelligence; how American intellectuals insisted that only Anglo Saxons were truly American and how the definitions of who is "white" and who is "American" have evolved over time. A story filled with towering historical figures, The History of White People closes a gap in a literature that has long focused on the non-white and it reminds us that the concept of "race" is a human invention whose meaning, importance and reality have changed according to a long and rich history.


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"Historian Nell Irvin Painter's book is fascinating... This is a thoroughly engaging read that will spark serious discussion for a long time to come." - David Adjaye's Cultural Highlights, On My Radar, The Observer "The conclusion of Painter's book - which has taken more than a decade to research and write - is explosive." - Precious Williams, The Independent "Painter's history is a dense but illuminating read." - Financial Times "A timely and rewarding study..." - The Scotsman " ... a fascinating story, told with confidence and brio." - The Sunday Herald "Having taken on a near-impossible task, she [Painter] has managed to produce an absorbing and very readable book nonetheless." - Sunday Business Post "Full of useful information... well-illustrated..." - The Morning Star" ...her [Painter's] meticulously sourced research is enlivened with a pacy delivery which mixes anecdotes and relevation in equal measure." - Diplomat

Nell Irvin Painter is the Edwards Professor of American History, Emerita, at Princeton University. She is the award-winning author of many books, including Standing at Armageddon (ISBN 978 0 393 33192 9). Author website: Author video available at

General Fields

  • : 9780393339741
  • : WW Norton & Co
  • : WW Norton & Co
  • : 0.412
  • : May 2011
  • : 209mm X 144mm X 31mm
  • : United States
  • : June 2011
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Nell Irvin Painter
  • : Paperback
  • : 4-Nov
  • : 305.809073
  • : 512
  • : Illustrations