White Over Black

American Attitudes toward the Negro, 1550-1812

Second Edition

By Winthrop D. Jordan

With new forewords by Christopher Leslie Brown and Peter H. Wood

696 pp., 6 x 9, 1 map, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-7141-6
    Published: February 2012
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-3868-6
    Published: February 2013
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-8592-0
    Published: February 2013

Published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of North Carolina Press

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Published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of North Carolina Press

Awards & distinctions

1969 National Book Award

1968 Ralph Waldo Emerson Award, Phi Beta Kappa

1968 Francis Parkman Prize, Society of American Historians

1969 Bancroft Prize, Columbia University

In 1968, Winthrop D. Jordan set out in encyclopedic detail the evolution of white Englishmen's and Anglo-Americans' perceptions of blacks, perceptions of difference used to justify race-based slavery, and liberty and justice for whites only. This second edition, with new forewords by historians Christopher Leslie Brown and Peter H. Wood, reminds us that Jordan's text is still the definitive work on the history of race in America in the colonial era. Every book published to this day on slavery and racism builds upon his work; all are judged in comparison to it; none has surpassed it.

About the Authors

Winthrop D. Jordan (1931-2007) taught history at the University of Mississippi. His books include Tumult and Silence at Second Creek: An Inquiry into a Civil War Slave Conspiracyand White Man's Burden: Historical Origins of Racism in the United States.
For more information about Winthrop D. Jordan, visit the Author Page.

Christopher Leslie Brown is professor of history at Columbia University. He is the author of Moral Capital: Foundations of British Abolitionism, for which he won the Frederick Douglass Book Prize.
For more information about Christopher Leslie Brown, visit the Author Page.

Peter H. Wood is history professor emeritus at Duke University and author of Strange New Land: African Americans, 1526-1776, among others.
For more information about Peter H. Wood, visit the Author Page.


"This monumental study is a tremendously important block, fascinating and appalling, of American social and cultural history. . . . Though the study was begun years before the current civil rights agitation, it is quite indispensable for a full appreciation of the realities and wellsprings and the dilemmas of the contemporary struggle." —The Phi Beta Kappa Senate award committee for the 1968 Ralph Waldo Emerson Award

"White Over Black will stand as a landmark in the historiography of this generation. Its richness and insight, its sensitive, penetrating analysis of the unspoken as well as the explicit, its union of breadth with depth, make it a brilliant achievement."—Richard D. Brown, New England Quarterly

"One of the most important historical works of the past 40 years, contributing to the cultural shift in white thinking that made possible the election of Barack Obama."—Gordon S. Wood, Wall Street Journal

"The author has put simple solutions and flashy theories aside and brought to his task a patience, skepticism, thoroughness, and humility commensurate with the vast undertaking. He combines these qualities with imagination and insight. The result is a massive and learned work that stands as the most informed and impressive pronouncement on the subject yet made." —C. Vann Woodward, New York Times Book Review

White over Black remains a signal achievement in American historiography, a rich analytical and stylistic bequest to early American scholarship.”—William and Mary Quarterly

"Winthrop Jordan's masterpiece is as essential to the study of slavery and the development of race in the United States as it was when it first appeared. Jordan's insightful analysis, marvelous writing style, and deep humanity shine through on every page of White over Black. Christopher Brown's and Peter Wood's deft and elegant new forewords are the perfect complement to this most pivotal work in American historiography." —Annette Gordon-Reed, Harvard University