Cover image for The closest of strangers : liberalism and the politics of race in New York
The closest of strangers : liberalism and the politics of race in New York
Sleeper, Jim.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton, [1990]

Physical Description:
345 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F128.9.N3 S54 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Sleeper has written an amiably Marxist history of blacks in New York City politics, though the editorial writer for New York Newsday sometimes confuses theory with fact. He states that to southern blacks plunged into New York in the 1960s and seeking credit, welfare, an apartment, and a job, "everyone in authority seemed Jewish" and so naturally they became anti-Semitic. (Such a presumption ignores generations of fundamentalist Protestant anti-Semitism.) Three virtues of the book are conspicuous, however: its topic (the rise of blacks in city politics is one of the century's fascinating and proud stories); the insider's view of New York City (J. Raymond Jones assembles a political machine in 1940s Harlem around the young Percy Sutton, Basil Patterson, Charles Rangel, and David Dinkins); and Sleeper's character (he is a genuinely idealistic and curious 43-year-old). This will appeal to readers interested in the history of blacks, New York, and radical politics. Notes; to be indexed. --Roland Wulbert

Publisher's Weekly Review

An editorial writer for New York Newsday , Sleeper here offers a fair, tough-minded airing of New York City's racial tensions and animosities on all sides. Countering those black leaders and white leftists who cast New York City as another Johannesburg or as ``Up South,'' he sees hope for resuscitating the fragile 1960s consensus of interracial fair play battered by rising urban crime, poverty, black extremists' divisiveness and white racism. Sleeper spotlights constructive, predominantly black community-based organizations that have adapted the tactics of the late activist Saul Alinsky to confront establishment figures, including Mayor David Dinkins, fixture of the Harlem elite. As timely as today's ugly headlines, this blend of history and reportage seemingly spares no one in its search for common ground. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Sleeper's work is an engrossing book that melds both personal and dispassionate observations about the politics of race in New York City, one of the world's most heterogeneous urban communities. "In the depth of our civic night," Sleeper writes, "I put some of my assumptions about racism and the politics of race through a tortuous reexamination. This book is the record of my deliberations...." An editorial writer at New York Newsday, the author first takes the reader on a historical excursion--a sensitive, wrenching trip that ends in examination of the present situation. In the process Sleeper considers recent violent episodes, such as Howard Beach, Bensonhurst, the rape of the Central Park jogger, and the Bernhard Goetz confrontation, as well as the everyday slights and hassles that occur among people. Written with passion and great care, Sleeper's book provides insight into issues and politics of race, both within and among races, that at times appear to be unresolvable. In the truest sense, Sleeper's title, "The Closest of Strangers," is the ultimate definition of US ethnic relations. College, university, and public libraries. -J. Boskin, Boston University