Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
One Drop of Blood

One Drop of Blood

The American Misadventure of Race

Scott Malcomson

Farrar, Straus and Giroux


Trade Paperback

Why has a nation founded upon precepts of freedom and universal humanity continually produced, through its preoccupation with race, a divided and constrained populace? Scott Malcomson's search for an answer took him across the country--to the Cherokee Nation, an all-black town, and a white supremacist enclave in Oklahoma--back though the tangled red-white-and-black history of America from colonial times onward, and to his own childhood in racially fractured Oakland, California. By not only recounting our shared tragicomedy of race but helping us to own it--even to embrace it--this important book offers us a way at last to move beyond it.


Praise for One Drop of Blood

“Malcomson tracks with a Melvillean intensity the 'unbidden yet unstoppable' evolution of racial categorization in the United States. Close readings of history tease out the manifold ironies and contradictions of the subject.” —The New Yorker

“Full of swift insights . . . The chapters speed by . . . like a crash course given by a brilliant teacher.” —Daniel Blue, The San Francisco Chronicle

“This is cultural history written as a nation's collective memoir. Malcomson's ambitious narrative, spanning two centuries of an idea, is bound to become a cornerstone of the new American historiography.” —Talk

“This book should be read with deliberation, for it invites serious reflection of a kind that for the fair-minded, rational person can only be liberating.” —John C. Walter, Seattle Times

“The best single history of race in America in many years, the one to read if you only have time for one book on the subject.” —David L. Chappell, Newsday

“Explosive and exhilarating . . . Carried through with an ardor and interpretive brilliance that rivals James Baldwin . . . Malcomson has set a new standard of open, honest dialogue on race in America.” —Orlando Patterson, The New York Times Book Review

“Malcomson's accounts of how whites' myths of racial belonging were woven – out of encounters with Indians in forests primeval, with blacks on African coasts and Virginia riverbanks and with Mexicans in the often-fatuous deliberations of the California Constitutional Convention of 1849--are moral without moralizing, intimate without self-pity or self-importance . . . The result is a book almost biblical . . . with commanding flights of moral imagination and poetry.” —Jim Sleeper, Los Angeles Times

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Scott Malcomson

Scott Malcomson's previous books are Tuturani: A Political Journey in the Pacific Islands and Borderlands: Nation and Empire. From 1984 to 1996 he worked at The Village Voice in a variety of jobs, including a seven-year stint as senior editor at the VLS.

Scott Malcomson

From the Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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