I BEGAN WRITING this book in the fall of 1993, but its intellectual roots--and my debts of gratitude--go much deeper. In college, I first became interested in issues of class and race when I wrote my senior honor's thesis on Robert Kennedy's 1968 campaign for president. Harvard Professor Richard Neustadt, my thesis adviser, heavily influenced my views on these issues as he guided my research on Kennedy's unique brand of urban populism, which united working-class whites and blacks. This book draws on interviews I conducted for my thesis with Robert Coles, Mario Cuomo, Jeff Greenfield, Richard Harwood, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and Adam Walinsky. All gave generously of their time.
As a law student, I wrote a paper, under the supervision of Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, proposing a shift to affirmative action based on class. His comments and criticisms were quite helpful to me. I described the paper in a two-and-a- half-page passage of a book I wrote about my law school experiences and received a flurry of letters on the subject, a show of interest that encouraged me to pursue the topic further.
When I worked as a legislative assistant for Senator Charles S. Robb, handling civil rights issues, among others, I had long discussions about affirmative action and class with the senator and with my colleagues, Susan Albert, Julius Hobson, Jr., Kerry Walsh Skelly, and Nicole Venable. Their thoughts and comments on the subject were very helpful to my thinking.
At George Washington University, where I was a visiting professor in the law school and a lecturer in the business school, I received helpful advice and support on the book from President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg. A number of my law school colleagues shared their thoughts and advice, including Jose Alvarez, Paul Butler, Burlette Carter, Jack Friedenthal, Larry Mitchell,