With race in American culture a focus of the political season, three new books offer thoughtful takes on the past, present and future.
All About the Beat: Why Hip-Hop Can't Save Black America (Gotham Books), by John McWhorter, argues that the dominant pop music form of the past 20 years may point to social problems but does little to solve them.
Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America (Public Affairs), by Lee A. Daniels, presents the case that our society is not yet postracial, but may be at a political turning point.
Sweet Release: The Last Step to Black Freedom (Prometheus Books), by James Davison Jr., focuses on the role of individual achievement as a means to overcoming racial oppression.
Colette Bancroft, Times book editor