Wood, Peter (W.) 1953–
WOOD, Peter (W.) 1953–
PERSONAL: Born 1953. Education: Graduate of Haverford College and Rutgers University; University of Rochester, Ph.D. (anthropology), 1987.
ADDRESSES: Office—Boston University, 143 Bay State Rd., Boston, MA 02215. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Educator and author. Boston University, Boston, MA, associate professor of anthropology.
Diversity: The Invention of a Concept, Encounter Books (San Francisco, CA), 2003.
A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now, Encounter Books (San Francisco, CA), 2004.
Contributor to Partisan Review, Society, National Review Online, American Conservative, Claremont Review of Books, and American Spectator.
SIDELIGHTS: Anthropologist Peter Wood is the author of Diversity: The Invention of a Concept. In this "erudite, elegant" book, to quote Matt Feeney in the Weekly Standard, Wood offers a wide-ranging examination of the diversity movement. He traces the origins of this modern movement to two key events: President Lyndon B. Johnson's 1965 executive order allowing the use of affirmative action in federal contracts, and the 1978 Supreme Court decision Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, in which the Court opened the door for race to be used as a factor in college admissions. Spurred by events such as these, a race-based concept of diversity gained prominence in virtually all walks of American life, from college campuses to the corporate world. Wood argues that the diversity movement, rather than transforming American society for the better, has "achieved a substantial record of increased social discord and cultural decline," in the words of Carol Iannone in National Review.
Reviewers praised Diversity for its exhaustive treatment of a concept that has become ingrained—and divisive—in contemporary American life. Remarking on the author's "brilliant biography of the concept of diversity," Feeney noted that "chapters on the Bakke fiasco, diversity myths on college campuses, and the business world's craven and faddish diversity fixation are so dolefully illuminating it actually hurts." Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Jim Sleeper called the book "a wonderful surprise." While noting that the work "has its slippery patches," Sleeper maintained that "any liberal who claims to value intellectual as well as racial diversity and wants to engage the other side's best arguments without shouting should try Wood." Washington Post contributor Edward Countryman criticized Wood's "vague and undocumented assigning of blame" but added that Diversity "is worth reading" because its anthropologist author's "sense of how things fit together overcomes his polemic." "Diversity has finally found its poet and philosopher, in the form of a clever antagonist named Peter Wood," commented Stanley Kurtz in National Review Online. Wood's "extraordinary" book, continued Kurtz, "spills the beans about diversity—about its flimsiness and mendacity … but also about its complex cultural accomplishments and appeal, however unfortunate or insidious these may be."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Wood, Peter, Diversity: The Invention of a Concept, Encounter Books (San Francisco, CA), 2003.
Booklist, December 1, 2002, Ray Olson, review of Diversity: The Invention of a Concept, p. 634.
Commentary, June, 2003, Chester E. Finn, Jr., review of Diversity, p. 71.
Library Journal, February 1, 2003, Mark Bay, review of Diversity, p. 107.
Los Angeles Times, August 10, 2003, Jim Sleeper, "Courting Diversity: Two Warnings Ignored," p. R5.
National Review, June 2, 2003, Carol Iannone, review of Diversity.
Wall Street Journal, February 26, 2003, Adam Wolfson, "What Makes a Difference," p. D10.
Washington Post, April 6, 2003, Edward Countryman, "Mosaic Law," p. T8.
Weekly Standard, January 27, 2003, Matt Feeney, review of Diversity, p. 43.
Boston University Web site, http://www.bu.edu/ (July 26, 2004), "Peter W. Wood."
National Review Online, (March 19, 2003), Stanley Kurtz, "Diversity, like You've Never Seen It."