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Kenan Malik

Strange Fruit

Race has always been a highly contentious issue. In Strange Fruit: Why Both Sides are Wrong in the Race Debate Kenan Malik argues that it is also a very muddled issue.

Whether race is a meaningful concept at all is a debatable issue, but Malik argues that it may be useful in some circumstances, such as the initial diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. It should not, however, be used to define a person's identity. Such a definition has been at the base of policies of segregation, but it is also being supported by some in the anti-racist movement. What is scary is how eager people seem to accept this, on the basis of very weak correlations in scientific studies, of the campaigning of a few activists and of 'postmodern' arguments which would fall apart if you took them seriously.

This book is a contender for the 2009 Royal Society Prize for Science Books, but it wouldn't be my choice for the title, as I feel it leaves something to be desired as a science book. An author such as Stephen J Gould would be more likely to try to sort out the muddle, whilst Malik is content just to highlight it. Also, I thought that he missed some opportunities for highlighting the contradictions in thoughts about race. However, I still feel that it is well worth reading as a timely warning of where some current racial policies may be leading.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 352 pages  
ISBN: 1851686657
Salesrank: 1307654
Weight:0.84 lbs
Published: 2009 Oneworld Publications
Amazon price $10.68
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Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 288 pages  
ISBN: 185168588X
Salesrank: 658199
Weight:1.2 lbs
Published: 2008 Oneworld Publications
Marketplace:New from £34.99:Used from £5.23
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Amazon.ca info
Hardcover 288 pages  
ISBN: 185168588X
Salesrank: 3342690
Weight:1.2 lbs
Published: 2008 Oneworld
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 19.17:Used from CDN$ 1.44
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Product Description
Debates about race are back and they’re only getting bigger. There has recently been a massive upsurge in scientific racial research. The US government has licensed a heart drug to be used only on African Americans. A pharmaceutical company is trialling a white-only anti-hepatitis drug. Commercial companies produce DNA kits to allow individuals to trace their racial ancestry. A genetic study claims that Jews are more intelligent because their history of money lending and other financial occupations favoured genes associated with cleverness. Malik boldly argues that this rise in the science of race and the preservation of racial ideas is paradoxically due to the efforts of liberal anti-racism; a movement that demands the preservation and celebration of human difference over human commonalities. The only hope for finding the truth about race lies in exposing the irrationality in both racial science and anti-racism, and allowing science to study population differences without the distortions of political race debates, because, as Malik unflinchingly explains, races do not exist. Kenan Malik is a full time writer and broadcaster, and lives in London