This essay scrutinizes the book by J Anthony Lukas, Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families, to assess whether it presents a valid and reliable account of the issues, people, and events it chronicles. The substantive core of the book is shown to be the politics of Boston public school desegregation. The parts played by the three families in this event are dramatically portrayed but cannot be corroborated and are not interpreted. The parts played by five major policy leaders, when tested against other evidence, are found to be distorted, questionable legends woven in order to argue that four of the five leaders made flawed decisions that plunged Boston into violence. Lukas's docudramatic method of reporting works to cloak the ignorance, fear, and hostility of the minority of citizens in the white enclaves of Boston who initiated racial violence in the robe of civic innocence.


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