Review by Choice Review
Hoffer's study of Homer Plessy's suit and its long aftermath adds to the vast literature on the special place of Louisiana in Reconstruction and the Jim Crow era, the role of the Supreme Court in buttressing social constructs like race and power, and the paradoxes of constitutional law during the long civil rights movement. His analysis reveals a welter of ironies, including how Plessy's desire to be treated as an individual, rather than a member of a racial group, produced an outcome that undergirded a biracial social order based on group membership. Indeed, Plessy's race was not self-evident to the railroad conductor when he removed Plessy from the first-class car. Second, although Browder v. Gayle overturned Plessy, recent decisions by the Supreme Court such as Parents v. Seattle indicate that race remains an essential legal category, although jurists on the Left and Right pay homage to the idea of a race-neutral Constitution, famously articulated by Justice Harlan in his dissent from the court's ruling in Plessy. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. E. R. Crowther Adams State College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review
In 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in the landmark case of Plessy v. Ferguson. At issue was the right of a black passenger, Homer Plessy, to travel in a train car designated as white-only in the wake of the Louisiana Separate Car Act of 1890, which set up a system of "equal but separate accommodations." The Supreme Court decided against Plessy and laid the groundwork for decades of Jim Crow laws that would remain in place until the 1950s and 1960s. Hoffer (history, Seton Hall Univ.; The Caning of Charles Sumner: Honor, Idealism, and the Origins of the Civil War) has written an accessible history of the case, its origins, and aftermath. VERDICT Though quite readable, Hoffer's history of Plessy v. Ferguson will be of greatest interest to academic audiences, especially in the disciplines of history and law. Still, his attention to details of place and character enliven the work and create rich context for the fateful decision of the case and the aftermath of that decision. Recommended for academic audiences and general readers with a strong interest in American legal history.-Rachel Bridgewater, Portland Community Coll. Lib., OR (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.