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Jeffrey B. Perry Blog

Brief Comments on the Importance of the Work of Theodore W. Allen author of The Invention of the White Race by Jeffrey B. Perry

I strongly encourage people who want to know what Theodore W. Allen’s The Invention of the White Race” is about to read it in the original.

His two-volume “classic” is approximately 800 pages including some 30% notes and appendices. It includes voluminous primary research conducted over thirty years and offers profound and compelling theses. He knows the contending arguments, he tries to treat those positions seriously and in their best light, and he refers readers back to detailed and specific sources so they can investigate for themselves. It is high quality and very principled scholarship.

Allen has also provided a very helpful Summary of the Argument of The Invention of the White Race

The new expanded 2012 Verso Books edition of The Invention of the White Race includes introductions to each volume, background on Allen and his work, internal study guides, and significantly expanded indexes (especially the index to vol. 2 on The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America).

Allen’s “Introduction” to Volume 1: Racial Oppression and Social Control discusses his work in relation to that of Carl Degler, Winthrop D. Jordan, Oscar and Mary Handlin, Eric Williams, Edmund S. Morgan, Timothy Breen, and others.

The following two reviews by Allen are particularly important --

1) Theodore William Allen, “Slavery, Racism, and Democracy," Review of Edmund S. Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1974). Monthly Review 29, no. 10 (March 1978): 57-63.
2) Theodore W. Allen, "On Roediger's Wages of Whiteness," Cultural Logic, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Spring 2001)

Strongly recommended for understanding the development of Allen’s thought is “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights from Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen On the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy,” in "Cultural Logic" (2010) available in pdf format at the top left HERE and also available at Cultural Logic (2010), especially pages 1-6, 8-12, 26, 30-113.

"The Developing Conjuncture . . ." offers some of Allen’s thoughts on work by labor and left historians and writers on history including Frederick Engels, Frederick A. Sorge, Frederick Jackson Turner, Richard T. Ely, Morris Hillquit, John R. Commons, Selig Perlman, Mary Ritter Beard, Charles A. Beard, William Z. Foster, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Lewis C. Gray, Roger W. Shugg, Hubert Harrison, David Roediger, Winthrop D. Jordan, Edmund S. Morgan, Eric Williams, C. L. R. James, Norman Ware, Herman Schlueter, Philip S. Foner, Harry Heywood, and “James S. Allen” [Sol Auerbach]. Of particular interest are Allen’s thoughts from his unpublished “Toward a Revolution in Labor History.”

A number of additional writings by and about Allen can be found HERE!  Read More 
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