BOOKS: COOL TALK ON A HOT TOPIC

ELLIS COSE EXAMINES WHY RACE CONTINUES TO MATTER

Ellis Cose's Color-Blind: Seeing Beyond Race in a Race-Obsessed World (HarperCollins; 260 pages; $24) is an attempt to break out of what the author calls "the well-worn rut into which racial reflections and conversations commonly fall." A pit of conceptual quicksand would be more like it.

Most discussions about human differences remain stuck in myth, pseudo-science and the danker parts of the psyche. Cose quotes anthropologist Ashley Montagu, who more than 50 years ago wrote, "'Race' is the witchcraft of our time. The means by which we exorcise demons." Modern biology takes a similar though less dramatic view. At the cellular...

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