In this landmark effort to understand African American people in the New World, Gunnar Myrdal provides deep insight into the contradictions of American democracy as well as a study of a people within a people. The title of the book, 'An American Dilemma', refers to the moral contradiction of a nation torn between allegiance to its highest ideals and awareness of the base realities of racial discrimination. The touchstone of this classic is the jarring discrepancy between the American creed of respect for the inalienable rights to freedom, justice, and opportunity for all and the pervasive violations of the dignity of blacks. The appendices are a gold mine of information, theory, and methodology. Indeed, two of the appendices were issued as a separate work given their importance for systematic theory in social research. The new introduction by Sissela Bok offers a remarkably intimate yet rigorously objective appraisal of Myrdal—a social scientist who wanted to see himself as an analytic intellectual, yet had an unbending desire to bring about change. 'An American Dilemma' is testimonial to the man as well as the ideas he espoused. When it first appeared 'An American Dilemma' was called "the most penetrating and important book on contemporary American civilization" by Robert S. Lynd; "One of the best political commentaries on American life that has ever been written" in The American Political Science Review; and a book with "a novelty and a courage seldom found in American discussions either of our total society or of the part which the Negro plays in it" in 'The American Sociological Review'. It is a foundation work for all those concerned with the history and current status of race relations in the United States.



part I|1187 pages

The Approach

chapter 1|1181 pages

American Ideals and the American Conscience

chapter 2|1160 pages

Encountering the Negro Problem

chapter 3|1138 pages

Facets of the Negro Problem

part II|1138 pages


chapter 4|1116 pages

Racial Beliefs

chapter 5|1100 pages

Race and Ancestry

chapter 6|1082 pages

Racial Characteristics

part III|1078 pages

Population and Migration

chapter 7|1073 pages


chapter 8|1051 pages


part IV|1107 pages


chapter 2049|1030 pages

Economic Inequality

chapter 10|1018 pages

The Tradition of Slavery a

chapter 12|1004 pages

New Blows to Southern Agriculture During the Thirties

Trends and Policies

chapter 13|981 pages

Seeking Jobs Outside Agriculture

chapter 15|951 pages

The Negro in the Public Economy

chapter 16|929 pages

Income, Consumption and Housing a

chapter 19|901 pages

The War Boom—And Thereafter

part V|909 pages


chapter 42820|890 pages

Underlying Factors a

chapter 21|871 pages

Southern Conservatism and Liberalism

chapter 22|858 pages

Political Practices Today

chapter 23|831 pages

Trends and Possibilities