Class Notes

Posing as Politics and Other Thoughts on the American Scene

The classic and deeply prescient collection that explores the multifaceted nature of race, class, and identity in America, from one of our most insightful and iconoclastic intellectuals

“A must-read for thinking leftists.” —Katha Pollitt, The Nation

Hailed by Publishers Weekly for its “forceful” and “bracing opinions on race and politics,” Class Notes is a collection of critic Adolph Reed Jr.’s clearest thinking on matters of race, class, and other American dilemmas. With barbed wit, Reed takes aim against the solipsistic, individualistic approaches of identity politics, and in favor of class-based political interpretation and action. Reed leaves no topic untouched, from the myth that there exists a particular kind of “Black Anti-Semitism,” to the grift perpetuated by commentators who claim to speak for groups solely based on their identity categories.

Adolph Reed Jr. remains one of our most controversial and necessary interpreters of American politics. These essays illustrate why Reed is “the smartest person of any race, class, or gender writing on race, class, and gender” (Katha Pollitt). Class Notes is a classic text that signposts a path for the Left—out of essentialist gridlock and into meaningful, goal-oriented mass politics.


“Everything [Reed] writes is informed by a strong historical memory of a time when there was a ‘Movement’ and when the distance between rhetoric and conviction was much less than it is now.”
—Christopher Hitchens, The New York Times Book Review
“Opening Adolph Reed’s Class Notes is like boarding a roller coaster. What follows is an opinionated, headspinning loop, brilliantly executed, through the controversies of the recent past and immediate future. I strongly recommend taking the ride.”
—David Levering Lewis, author of W. E. B. DuBois: Biography of a Race, 1868–1919, winner of the 1994 Pulitzer Prize in Biography
“Brutally frank. . . . This book is definitely not your father’s old mobilization rhetoric.”
—Bill Quigley, professor of law, Loyola University
Class Notes sparkles with wit and wisdom. Reed’s essay on the political and intellectual left since the 1960s is the best analysis of American radicalism in print.”
—Judith Stein, professor of history, The City University of New York

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