Skip to main content

Black History Month: Select Books 30% Off

Harvard University Press - home
Idols of the Tribe

Idols of the Tribe

Group Identity and Political Change

Harold Isaacs

ISBN 9780674443150

Publication date: 01/01/1989

“A pacesetter, at the forefront in recognizing the persisting importance of ‘ethnicity as a force both in building nations and in tearing them apart,’ it is also a work of literary merit, crafted by a master wordsmith.” So comments Lucian Pye in reflecting on this classic work in political science and sociology about group identities bending and shaping themselves under the pressure of political change. These transformations seem to have basic similarities, whether they take place in Little Rock or Kenya, Vietnam or Pakistan, Belgium or Biafra.

Isaacs sorts out some fundamentals in forming group identity: the body, names, language, history of origins, religion, and nationality. These are dynamic elements that are melded together but have the possibility of creating new pluralisms.

Praise

  • Isaacs’s survey of global pluralism is enormously helpful in broadening our perspective, and should be required reading for anyone who cares about the shape of ethnicity in America.

    —Diane Ravitch, Commentary

Author

  • Lucian W. Pye was Ford Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of Mao Tse-Tung: The Man in the Leader.

Book Details

  • 256 pages
  • 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press
  • Foreword by Lucian W. Pye

Recommendations