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Race, Sex, and the Freedom to Marry


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About the Author

Peter Wallenstein is professor of history at Virginia Tech, USA. He is the author of many books including Cradle of America: A History of Virginia, also from Kansas.


Classic Wallenstein. This superb work by a proven scholar tracks the intertwining histories of race, gender, law, and religion; it masterfully revisions America's past and present through the window of the Loving story, a saga of race and marriage.--Arica L. Coleman, author of That the Blood Stay Pure: African Americans, Native Americans and the Predicament of Race and Identity in VirginiaPeter Wallenstein has crafted a soaring new account of the crucial Loving v. Virginia case. He places the story deep into a centuries old historical context, untangles the complicated tri-racial issues of the case, and provides the best analysis of the decision ever written. This is a skillful and compelling read.--Jonathan Bryant, Professor of History, Georgia Southern UniversityPlacing the Loving drama in historical context, Wallenstein masterfully guides the reader through the Lovings' state and federal court battle, examining the attorneys, judges, special interest groups and legal arguments tied to the case. Always sensitive to the historical context, he provides the important backdrop that informs the reader on the larger social and legal changes that affect the Loving saga. Wallenstein assesses the impact of the case on interracial couples in the immediate aftermath of the Supreme Court's 1967 ruling in favor of the couple. Further, he examines how same-sex couples use the Loving precedent to afford them the right to marry as well. A readable, detailed, and valuable addition to the Loving history.--Charles Robinson, Vice Chancellor, University of Arkansas

Wallenstein's book comes at a key time, as it illuminates not only the specific story of Richard and Mildred Loving but also the legal context and the arc that connected the right of interracial marriage to the right of same-sex marriage.--Journal of American HistoryThe criminalization of interracial sex and marriage began and ended in the Chesapeake Bay region. In his Race, Sex, and the Freedom to Marry, Peter Wallenstein traces regulation and prohibition of interracial sex and marriage from the colonial era in Virginia and Maryland to the landmark legal sea-changes in the 1960s and beyond. . . . [I]t brings the political and social contexts of the Loving decision especially alive. . . . This reviewer would strongly recommend this work to be required reading for any upper-level undergraduate or graduate course in Virginia or legal history.--Virginia MagazineThe Loving case not only revolutionized the constitutional relationship between race and marriage but also set in motion and shaped the issue of law and marriage in the first quarter of the 21st century. The work is a clearly written example of the law and society approach that is the hallmark of [the Landmark Law Cases and American Society] series.--Choice

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