Sundown Towns

A Hidden Dimension of American Racism

The award-winning look at an ugly aspect of American racism by the bestselling author of Lies My Teacher Told Me, reissued with a new preface by the author

“Powerful and important . . . an instant classic.” —The Washington Post Book World

In this groundbreaking work, sociologist James W. Loewen, author of the classic bestseller Lies My Teacher Told Me, brings to light decades of hidden racial exclusion in America. In a provocative, sweeping analysis of American residential patterns, Loewen uncovers the thousands of “sundown towns”—almost exclusively white towns where it was an unspoken rule that blacks weren’t welcome—that cropped up throughout the twentieth century, most of them located outside of the South.

Written with Loewen’s trademark honesty and thoroughness, Sundown Towns won the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award, received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Booklist, and launched a nationwide online effort to track down and catalog sundown towns across America.

In a new preface, Loewen puts this history in the context of current controversies around white supremacy and the Black Lives Matter movement. He revisits sundown towns and finds the number way down, but with notable exceptions in exclusive all-white suburbs such as Kenilworth, Illinois, which as of 2010 had not a single black household. And, although many former sundown towns are now integrated, they often face “second-generation sundown town issues,” such as in Ferguson, Missouri, a former sundown town that is now majority black, but with a majority-white police force.

Praise

“Amazing.”
San Francisco Review of Books
“The first comprehensive history of sundown towns ever written . . . sure to become a landmark in several fields.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Methodically upends many of white America’s preconceived notions about race.”
The Chicago Reader
“Just when you thought you’d learned everything there was to know about the sordid history of racism in the United States and its lingering impact on the nation, along comes this amazing volume, which reminds us all of just how deep the well of racial exclusion and white supremacy runs.”
—Tim Wise, author of White Like Me

Books by James W. Loewen

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Young Readers’ Edition
Everything American History Textbooks Get Wrong

James W. Loewen

Lies Across America
What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong

James W. Loewen

Lies My Teacher Told Me About Christopher Columbus
What Your History Books Got Wrong

James W. Loewen

Lies My Teacher Told Me
Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong

James W. Loewen