Totalitarianism has been a defining concept and issue in twentieth- and twenty-first-century political discourse, but it has rarely been analyzed with reference to either structures of racial domination in the United States or European colonialism. As Vaughn Rasberry explains in his magisterial study of race literature and the Cold War, intellectual debates about totalitarianism have tended to focus on Europe during World War II or to compare the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in a manner that precludes discussion of the racial injustice stemming from democracy’s entanglement with colonialism and the slave trade. Race and the Totalitarian Century pushes beyond the Eurocentric focus of much scholarship on totalitarianism to present a theoretically sophisticated “revisionist account of black cultural production that demonstrates its diverse, and often unexpected, engagements with the century’s pressing dilemmas wrought by world war” (15). Such an approach not only generates significant...

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