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"O'Toole tells the remarkably well documented story of an American family negotiating the terrain of race and ethnicity in the nineteenth century. Working at the intersection of church history and racial and ethnic history, he demonstrates that racial categories have been more fluid than law and custom admit. The Healys found freedom and extraordinary achievement by embracing their Irish heritage and the Catholic faith, while distancing themselves from their African roots and slave status. This important book presents a more complex American racial past and contributes to our understanding of the challenges of a multiracial future."--Lois E. Horton and James Oliver Horton, authors of "In Hope of Liberty and Black Bostonians"
"O'Toole places into context the Healys' decision to live life as a White family, turning their backs on their mother's lineage. Should they have proudly asserted their Black heritage? Could they? And whom would that have helped? While 'Passing for White' is a thorough work of history, O'Toole manages to keep the material readable. . . . The story is the thing. And it is a great story."--(Cleveland) Call and Post
"A remarkably interesting story. The research is very impressive in both thoroughness and scope. I know of no book that is anywhere near as complete in its extraordinary story of an entire family in the United States when the nation was so heavily, both historically and fundamentally, a bi- rather than multiple-'racial' society."--Winthrop D. Jordan, author of "White over Black: American Attitudes toward the Negro, 1550--1812"
"This book is enormously informative on the subject of race and religion in the nineteenth century, beautifully told and superbly researched. . . . It will be one of the best books we have on nineteenth-century Catholic history and an important study for the rapidly growing field of 'racial' identity."--John T. McGreevy, author of "Parish Boundaries: The Catholic Encounter with Race in the Twentieth-Century Urban North"
"[A] lucid, riveting work. . . . I cannot begin to indicate the importance of this work for what it tells us about the Catholic Church in nineteenth-century America or about race relations. O'Toole is to be commended for a fine, well-balanced work that examines an issue that the Church wrestles with even today."--St. Anthony's Messenger
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