Skip to Main Content (Press Enter)
Against Civility by Alex Zamalin
Add Against Civility to bookshelf
Add to Bookshelf

Against Civility

Best Seller
Against Civility by Alex Zamalin
Paperback $16.95
Feb 08, 2022 | ISBN 9780807055533

Buy from Other Retailers:

See All Formats (2) +
  • Feb 08, 2022 | ISBN 9780807055533

    Buy from Other Retailers:

  • Feb 02, 2021 | ISBN 9780807026540

    Buy from Other Retailers:

  • Feb 02, 2021 | ISBN 9780807026564

    Buy from Other Retailers:

Product Details


“Progressives will be galvanized by this urgent and incisive call for a stiffer resistance to the status quo.”
Publishers Weekly

“An impassioned argument for public acts of resistance.”
Kirkus Reviews

Against Civility: The Hidden Racism in Our Obsession with Civility is an amazing book and quickly provides an eye-opening view into why white calling for people to act ‘civil’ has racial undertones. In a mere 136 pages, we are treated to a rich and detailed history lesson in the use of this civility from George Washington to George Floyd.”
San Francisco Book Review

“Narrator Adam Barr uses a persuasive style to emphasize the core message of this audiobook, which is that calls for civility actually fuel racism, rather than combat it. . . . Barr is an excellent choice for a title that is likely to cause debate—even controversy.”
AudioFile Magazine

“Zamalin’s brief and blunt critique of failures and successes in the struggle for human rights in the United States calls to readers who care about racial and social justice to commit to a progressive, multiracial democratic movement to fight oppression, end discrimination, and extend economic freedom. Critical reading.”
Library Journal

“Monumental . . . A must-read book to help us conceptualize liberation for a well-functioning multiracial democracy.”
—Dorian Warren, president of Community Change

“Zamalin’s Against Civility offers an insightful, cogent analysis of democracy’s racism and decay with scholarship that emphasizes the collective struggle for justice through civic radicalism. Writing against pleasantries that gloss over pandemics of violence and disposability, Zamalin charts the historical, political, and spiritual trajectories of civic radicalism to counter repression. This is vital reading.”
—Joy James, author of Seeking the “Beloved Community”

“How could anything be more appropriate to today’s audacious struggles than this brilliant unmasking of the polite rhetoric of oppression? Zamalin topples a lot of hypocritical statuary.”
—Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles

“At a time of national debate about the history and ongoing reality of American racism, Alex Zamalin reminds us of an important truth: while politeness may be a virtue, speaking out against injustice is the more overriding imperative. This short but powerful book, vigorously and vividly written, is both a capsule account of a long struggle for racial equality too often erased in mainstream narratives and an inspirational call for a new multiracial democracy.”
—Charles W. Mills, author of The Racial Contract

“From opponents of abolitionism in the nineteenth century to BLM counter-protesters in the twenty-first, Zamalin shows how it has often been an insistence on ‘civility’ that ironically justifies and unleashes the gnashing dogs of the Right’s anti-democratic agenda. Who would ever be wary of something as benevolent sounding as ‘civility’? Turns out, we should all be.”
—Matthew Frye Jacobson, author of Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race

Against Civility powerfully reveals how civil discourse has been weaponized throughout history to undermine antiracism, bolster white supremacy, and oppress marginalized people. Zamalin’s timely call for civic radicalism inspires and educates us all with the stories of freedom fighters, artists, scholars, and activists who disregarded respectability politics to mobilize for human rights and freedoms. Essential reading.”
—Crystal Marie Fleming, PhD, author of How to Be Less Stupid About Race

“Zamalin writes a compelling story of the use and abuse of ‘civility’ and ‘reconciliation’ rhetoric across the broad sweep of US history. From slaveholders like John C. Calhoun to contemporary right-wing politicians like Donald Trump, elite whites figure prominently in this narrative. Whites’ civility framing routinely normalizes white supremacist and other anti-democratic activists but negatively frames black anti-racist protesters by insisting that the latter, who are actually seeking real democracy, are somehow ‘uncivilized.’”
—Joe Feagin, Distinguished Professor at Texas A&M University and author of The White Racial Frame

“Over the past several years, ‘civility’ has become a keyword of sorts, used as a cudgel to promote the idea that respectful dialogue offers the best way through this moment. Against Civility is a refreshing tonic that urges otherwise.”
—Lester Spence, professor of political science and Africana studies, Johns Hopkins

Table Of Contents

Civility Has Never Been Neutral in Its Uses and Impacts

Civility Distracts from Inequality

Civic Radicals Make Do with What They Have

Civic Radicals Speak Truth to Power

Civic Radicals Believe Racism Is Structural Rather Than Personal

Civility Is Deployed When Democratic Movements Are on the Rise and Reactionaries Are on the Ropes


Looking for More Great Reads?
21 Books You’ve Been Meaning to Read
Get the latest updates about Alex Zamalin
And go from well-read to best read with book recs, deals and more in your inbox every week.
And go from well-read to best read with book recs, deals and more in your inbox every week.
By clicking SIGN UP, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to Penguin Random House’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.
Something awesome is on its way.
Back to Top