On two occasions I have been asked, ‘Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?’ I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question… Charles Babbage


Apparently Malcomson’s qualifications to write this book were that he was a sometimes journalist and had at one point in time worked for the United Nations. While it offers anecdotal evidence of the author’s perceptions it is very weak in both its history and its sociology and is finally more interesting for what it tells us about the author than about the subject. If you have the time and the interest to see how his mind works – and often doesn’t – the book is worthwhile and better than most of its genre. That should not be misconstrued as a recommendation for the book.

One drop of blood : the American misadventure of race    New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000 Scott L. Malcomson United States Race relations Hardcover 1st ed. viii, 584 p. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Why has our nation continually produced, through its concern about race, a divided and constrained populace? Scott Malcomson’s search for an answer took him across the country – to the Cherokee Nation, an all-black town, and a white supremacist enclave – back though the tangled red-white-and-black history of America from colonial times onward, and to his own childhood in  Oakland, California. By recounting of his perceptions of race in our history this book is an interesting and sometimes amusing memoir.

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