The Pursuit of Fairness: A History of Affirmative Action

Terry H. Anderson

This effort to provide an unbiased account of the United States’ engagement with affirmative action covers a lot of ground, but the subject may be too huge for a single volume. I found my head spinning when the first chapter raced from Reconstruction to the integration of the military by former President Harry Truman, and then the second chapter went from the Montgomery bus boycott to the end of Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration. That’s 100 years in roughly 100 pages. It’s a good thumbnail sketch of the history, with an emphasis on attempts to steer public policy away from “quotas” and toward “fairness.” Anderson’s point that changes in affirmative action are a result of U.S. attempts to achieve “fairness,” however that term is understood, is an excellent one. It just needs to be made in a less hurried way.