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The Shape of the River:
Long-Term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions
William G. Bowen & Derek Bok
With a new introduction by the authors and a foreword by Glenn C. Loury

Book Description | Table of Contents
Preface [HTML] or [PDF format]


"What is good for business in this case is good for society too--good for us all. This report may, at last, make that fact evident even to the most obtuse."--Garry Wills, The Plain Dealer

"On the strength of [the authors'] credentials the reader can expect much, and much is delivered.... The Shape of the River is a monumental achievement. Its foundation is so solidly anchored to a bedrock of data that it will be relied upon as a navigational beacon for years to come."--Robert E. Thatch, Science


"Written by two of the most respected figures in higher education, The Shape of the River offers to the public what has long been needed: a large dose of crucial, unvarnished fact about affirmative action. Mining new and sensitive information, Bowen and Bok present an analysis that is careful, clear, comprehensive, and, above all, candid. No work tells us nearly as much as this one about the social costs and benefits of affirmative action in our colleges and universities. A brilliant scholarly performance, The Shape of the River should be essential reading for anyone seeking a dependable guide through the morass of competing claims that obscure from public attention the questions that need to be posed and the answers that need to be assessed."--Randall Kennedy, Harvard Law School

"This important book is a calm, expert, analytical study of race-sensitive college admissions, and what happens afterwards. There is nothing else in the same league. It tells us many things we didn't know, because until now there was no way to know them. The deepest question is: can we make social policy in this area on the basis of fact and reason, or will it all dissolve in ideological certainty?"--Robert M. Solow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nobel Laureate in Economics

"Instead of relying on preconceived notions and conventional wisdom about race in college and university admissions, Bill Bowen and Derek Bok use facts to examine the record. The result is an invaluable resource for those interested in American higher education and more generally, race in America. It shows that merit and diverse student bodies can be complementary goals and that individuals who have benefited from the policy have gone on to excel as contributing members to the life of our country."--Senator Bill Bradley

"With its persuasive evidence about the positive effects of higher education on the social, civic, and economic lives of African Americans, The Shape of the River is a real eye-opener. William Bowen and Derek Bok have brought erudition and hands-on experience to the debate over race-sensitive admissions. For all readers struggling to reconcile principles of fairness with the needs of the society, this book offers even-handed appraisals and a wealth of new and compelling facts."--Anne Armstrong, Former Ambassador to Great Britain and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Center for Strategic and International Studies

"This is a fascinating 'must read' book. The authors use a newly constructed database to elucidate the role that highly selective undergraduate colleges play in shaping individual life courses of black Americans and in contributing to the texture and robustness of our society. The issue of race-sensitive admissions is elegantly framed while the reader comes to appreciate the subtleties of the college educational experience . . . an exciting read!"--John Reed, Chairman and CEO, Citicorp

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File created: 4/21/2017

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