This book is still important a quarter century after its first appearance, when it was a milestone in the study of the Negro in the New World. We are, therefore, fortunate to have this new edition with the author’s extensive introduction re-examining the original text through twenty-five years of additional research by others. Part of its value lies in its references to more recently published works on race relations in Brazil. The first edition asked: What has happened to the Africans who were imported in such large numbers into this part of the New World? This new introduction effectively poses the question: What is happening to the Brazilian man of color?

Pierson emphasizes that races as sociologically defined groups with self-conscious identities do not exist in Bahia. Brazil has no “Negro” problem as such. Color darkens as you descend the social ladder, but this is a concomitant of economic stagnation which has persisted in Brazil since the abolition of slavery. In effect, the “Negro” problem is precluded by the socio-economic one. Nevertheless, industrialization is facilitating mobility. Race prejudice and conflict could conceivably result from an imposed threat to the superordinate group’s social position. Yet, socio-political strife in Brazil has not taken on racial overtones. This, explain Pierson and others, is because color is only one of several criteria of class ranking in Brazil. Thus Pierson perpetuates the ideology of racial democracy in Brazil. Still, in light of our own unhappy experiences, what better ideology to live by?