This book starts with a bang. He is challenging the attitudes and actions of the founding fathers in the introduction and doesn't slow down after that. The book covers history, politics, judicial rulings, and long-term effects of each major step in our nation's path. The author offers a framework for looking at slavery and then uses that framework to show the wrong choices and bad values that kept slavery, segregation, and the view that blacks were an inferior race alive for so long in the United States.
He challenges a lot of what I learned in school and backs it up pretty well. He argues a few things that I am still not convinced about but that doesn't detract from the truth of the book. Even if I think the founding fathers had little choice if they were going to create a united country, his point is well made when it goes on for another 200 years and not only does the federal government allow the South to keep slavery/segregation, but then it starts to institutionalize it across the entire nation.
He teaches more than just racism and sees more concerns with our government's behavior than just race-related. But the arena of race is an excellent example of the issues and a subject worthy of more attention and effort.
I married a Northerner and the few times the War of Northern Agression has been raised he has pointed out that "we won that one", and if the point was to keep all the states in the union, then he's right. But if the point (as we were both taught in school) was to end slavery, then it is very obvious that the South won and really, in the end, everyone lost.