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Whose Votes Count?

Affirmative Action and Minority Voting Rights

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$45.00 • £39.95 • €40.95

ISBN 9780674951969

Publication Date: 01/01/1989


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Thernstrom blends a detailed understanding of legislative history, case law, and administrative politics with a strong concern for the plight of minorities and a keen sense of the give-and-take of electoral politics. Her book is a first-rate contribution on an issue of enormous significance…and her analysis is all the more welcome since the goal of proportional representation has occasioned so little public debate… Thernstrom tackles what others skirt, raising the tough questions about voting rights.—Harold W. Stanley, The New Republic

[The] evolution of the Voting Rights Act, Abigail Thernstrom writes in this fascinating study, is ‘controversial policy that has somehow stirred no controversy.’ The long awaited appearance of her book will change all that… Thernstrom’s story, written with scrupulous balance and obvious sympathy for the cause of racial justice, reveals numerous ironies… To Thernstrom, the courts and the Justice Department have quietly perverted Congress’s intent and have abused the judicial and administrative processes.—Peter H. Schuck, Washington Monthly

This book is a perfect event. Nothing else in print provides the level of scholarship, balance, and perspective so conspicuous in this treatment. It avoids the disfigurement of advocacy scholarship. It is extremely clear-eyed and complete. Its overall development, its integration of case law of internal Washington administrative trends, of demographics, of Capitol politics, civil rights sociology, etc.—all are important pieces. This book cuts across disciplinary lines successfully, as previous writing has failed to do. It is necessarily the ‘standard work’ for anyone seriously interested in the politics, law, and modern history of the Voting Rights Act.—William Van Alstyne, Duke University School of Law

Thernstrom maneuvers successfully between the civil rights ideology and the requirements of democratic politics. She sustains a strong concern for the struggles of American blacks while conceding very little to the affirmative action or electoral quota position. Exactly right. This is a sad story, well told, well analyzed, with the right combination of strong criticism and moral sympathy.—Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

The book is fascinating—powerfully argued, richly documented, fair and respectful to those who disagree. Not only is the scholarship excellent, but the public policy questions Thernstrom raises are important questions that deserve to be debated in public.—Aaron Wildavsky, University of California, Berkeley, and past president of the American Political Science Association

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