cover image Race and Culture: A World View

Race and Culture: A World View

Thomas Sowell. Basic Books, $25 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-465-06796-1

Sowell ( Ethnic America ) draws on a worldwide range of examples and more than a decade of research in this intriguing exploration of the role of cultural attributes on group advancement. He aims to demonstrate the ``reality, persistence, and consequences of cultural differences--contrary to many of today's grand theories based on the supposed dominant role of `objective conditions,' `economic forces' or `social structures.' '' He tackles a host of issues: the costs and benefits of residential segregation; how affirmative action primarily helps better-off members of preferred groups; how prominent political leaders are not crucial to group success; how low-scoring groups on intelligence tests do their worst on abstract questions devoid of ``cultural bias.'' Sowell's observations have force, but he sometimes sacrifices depth for breadth. Although he claims to avoid policy prescriptions, he includes facile swipes against multiculturalism and argues, with varying degrees of plausibility, against liberal policies on race. Conservative Book Club selection. (Aug.)