The Volokh Conspiracy

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Publication Day for Classified, and a Special Offer for Our Readers

Get a special gift if you buy Classified: The Untold Story of Racial Classification in America today.


As regular VC readers know, I wrote an article on the modern history of government racial classification, which I expanded into a much longer book, Classified: The Untold Story of Racial Classification in America. Readers have gotten a preview of the book in a series of blog posts I wrote arising out of my research, but if you have been waiting for the book itself, well, wait no more! Today is release day.

To celebrate, if you buy the book today and email me the receipt (dbernste at gmu dot edu) and your address, I will send you a signed copy of one of my previous books, either Rehabilitating Lochner or You Can't Say That! I have many more copies of the latter than the former, so if you want a copy of the Lochner book, act fast. (Please note that I have a busy travel schedule coming up, so you may not receive your book until mid-August.)

And just so those of you who preordered the book don't feel left out, if you preordered send me your receipt, your address, and which book you want, and I will send you a  signed copy.

Will you like Classified? Well, I'm not objective, but here from the left, is liberal University of Texas law professor Sandy Levinson:

David Bernstein has written an illuminating, thoughtful, and often troubling book about the history of racial classifications in American law. This history underscores the validity of Oliver Wendell Holmes's dictum that 'experience,' rather than 'logic,' dictates the actual development of law, for Bernstein demonstrates the extent to which the adoption of racial (or, more commonly 'ethnic') classifications has been responsive far more to systematic political pressures rather than the application of a coherent overarching theory. Even (or especially) supporters of 'affirmative action,' as I ambivalently continue to be, will benefit enormously from confronting the material that Bernstein carefully presents. It truly deserves a wide readership and, just as importantly, respectful discussion.

And from the right, George Will:

The nation urgently needs what David E. Bernstein here provides: a lucid explanation of the long and tangled intersection of racial classifications and the law. With the intellectual boldness and clarity that he brought to Rehabilitating Lochner, he points to a path from today's tensions to a less angry, more sophisticated future.

And from more or less the center, Stuart Taylor:

David E. Bernstein proves ably and conclusively that the familiar legal classifications for racial and ethnic groups used by the federal and state governments, census-takers, medical regulators, racial-preference dispensers, and others are arbitrary to an extreme. The standard classifications -- Hispanic, American Indian, black, white, and Asian or Pacific Islander -- combine hundreds of vastly disparate ethnic groups into a handful of sprawling categories. They are not based on science, biology, genetics, or anthropology. They are divisive. And they are exploited by "identity entrepreneurs," who claim a minority identity for economic gain.