Whether chronicling the class conflict in the African-American community or exposing the failings of the government response in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Michael Eric Dyson has never shied away from controversy. No stranger to intellectual combat, Dyson has always been ready to engage friends and foes alike in open conversation about the issues that matter. Debating Race collects many of Dyson's most memorable encounters and most poignant arguments. Dyson shows that he is as eloquent off the cuff as he is on the book page, and Debating Race gives readers a front row seat as he spars with politicians, pundits, and public intellectuals. From John Kerry and John McCain to Ann Coulter and the hosts of television's "The View"-Dyson shows the mental agility and rhetorical tenacity that have made him one of America's most astute intellectuals, and with topics ranging from civil rights, the legacy of the O.J. Simpson trial, and the authenticity of Colin Powell there is something in Debating Race to touch a nerve in all of us.
Having already risen from poverty to become an ordained minister, a tenured professor at Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania, and the author of more than a dozen books (most recently Come Hell or High Water and Is Bill Cosby Right?), Dyson here cements his place as one of the most important voices on race in America today. Collecting 27 transcribed conversations involving an impressive list of thinkers "including scholars (Gary Orfield, Cornel West), politicians (John McCain, John Kerry) and pop political commentators (Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher) "Dyson and company tackle practically every angle in America's experience of race, including the legacy of the civil rights movement, immigration reform, affirmative action, urban poverty and the war on terror. Throughout, Dyson proves as comfortable and incisive considering the scholarship of Foucault and Weber as he is examining the work of Tupac Shakur and N.W.A. Though his interlocutors run the gamut from sympathetic fellow travelers (Jesse Jackson, Tavis Smiley) to ideological adversaries (Dennis Miller, Ann Coulter), Dyson upholds a commitment to open, empathetic and intelligent dialogue, a rare treat in today's hyperpartisan, invective-heavy media. No matter what one's personal take, the quality and clarity of Dyson's ideas "and his dedication to the full and free expression of all viewpoints "makes this perhaps the best introduction to the current state of race in American society.