... scholarly, comprehensive, thoroughly engaging ... Urofsky highlights various Supreme Court cases, seminal moments, and historical individuals to convey a broader view of this consequential mandate. He presents a balanced and nuanced view of the issue on many fronts, delving into affirmation-action controversies, especially in cases involving higher education. Urofsky’s extensively researched account explores the magnitude of affirmative action for the many groups which have faced discrimination.
Urofsky’s The Affirmative Action Puzzle is a comprehensive account of the nonwhite version of affirmative action. This is a complex and challenging historical task, given that 'no other issue divides Americans more.' But Urofsky, by and large, has executed it well ... Urofsky explores nearly all aspects of the program...The one major missing part of the puzzle in his otherwise thorough account is the military, which is unfortunate...This deserved a long chapter ... The nation’s jurists have been just as divided in their approaches, and Urofsky deploys his legal expertise to great effect in analyzing the numerous cases that have been argued over the policy ... Urofsky’s analysis of the DeFunis, Bakke and Weber cases of the 1970s is a gem ... deserves a better closing chapter. Urofsky claims that no coherent picture emerges from his painstaking study ... The great merit of this meticulously researched, honestly crafted work is that it allows readers to draw their own conclusions about the value of this uniquely American experiment, quite independent of the author’s own conflicted views about it.
There is a whole library on racial inequality and efforts to address it, and The Affirmative Action Puzzle does not offer many novelties. But the book, just by the accumulation of sixty years’ worth of evidence, allows us to reach some useful conclusions, and the most important of these is that affirmative action worked ... Urofsky, perhaps because he is an academic, is more patient with the trouble that universities have had in achieving diversity than he is with the problems of labor unions, to which, in general, he is uncharitable.