Books: Experiment in Black and White Common Ground: a Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families

in the Lives of Three American Families by J. Anthony Lukas; Knopf; 659 pages; $19.95

History is made by the famous, but it is endured by the anonymous--ordinary men and women who see themselves as victims of malign forces. That is the guiding principle of much populist scholarship, and it defines the approach taken by J. Anthony Lukas, a Pulitzer-prizewinning former New York Times correspondent, in his story of Boston's public school desegregation by court order in 1974.

That social goal was achieved at the cost of great disruption: the inner-city whites, many of Irish or Italian descent, resented what they viewed as upper- class suburban values imposed on them. Black children were unprepared for the...

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