American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland

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Princeton University Press, 2003 - Business & Economics - 386 pages
14 Reviews
As the birthplace of the Black Panthers and a nationwide tax revolt, California embodied a crucial motif of the postwar United States: the rise of suburbs and the decline of cities, a process in which black and white histories inextricably joined. "American Babylon" tells this story through Oakland and its nearby suburbs, tracing both the history of civil rights and black power politics as well as the history of suburbanization and home-owner politics. Robert Self shows that racial inequities in both New Deal and Great Society liberalism precipitated local struggles over land, jobs, taxes, and race within postwar metropolitan development. Black power and the tax revolt evolved together, in tension.

"American Babylon" demonstrates that the history of civil rights and black liberation politics in California did not follow a southern model, but represented a long-term struggle for economic rights that began during the World War II years and continued through the rise of the Black Panthers in the late 1960s. This struggle yielded a wide-ranging and profound critique of postwar metropolitan development and its foundation of class and racial segregation. Self traces the roots of the 1978 tax revolt to the 1940s, when home owners, real estate brokers, and the federal government used racial segregation and industrial property taxes to forge a middle-class lifestyle centered on property ownership.

Using the East Bay as a starting point, Robert Self gives us a richly detailed, engaging narrative that uniquely integrates the most important racial liberation struggles and class politics of postwar America.

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Review: American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland (Politics and Society in Twentieth Century America)

User Review  - Llew - Goodreads

A great intro, but the bulk of the text is dry labor history details that don't tie in with the intro. Good as a historical reference text, but maybe not great for the lay reader. Read full review

Review: American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland (Politics and Society in Twentieth Century America)

User Review  - Rob Mcbride - Goodreads

As a recent transplant from SF to Oakland, I found this to be an invaluable introduction to my new home. And Self makes it clear that this means not just Oakland, but the whole East Bay. Detailed and a little dry, but not terribly so. Excellent maps and photos. Read full review

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American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland. (Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America.) Princeton: Princeton University Press. ...
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Robert O. Self - California and the New Suburban History - Reviews ...
... of history and urban studies, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, is the author of American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland (2003). ...
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Self, R., American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland. (Princeton. , Princeton University Press, 2003) ...
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Robert Self, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University. Press, 2003). ...
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About the author (2003)

Robert O. Self is Assistant Professor of History at Brown University.