March 14, 2013 Articles

Book Review: Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It's Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won't Admit It

This may be one of the most important books published this year.

By Dennis Owens

Richard H. Sander and Stuart Taylor Jr.
Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It
Basic Books

This book is unexpected. It may be one of the most important books published this year. Professor Sander was a community organizer on Chicago’s South Side and a civil rights activist. Trained in economics, he now teaches law at UCLA. His article in the Stanford Law Review on this topic caused a sensation. Mr. Taylor, who was an editor of the Harvard Law Review, is a contributor to the National Journal and a fellow at the Brookings Institute.

The premise of the book is set out concisely in its subtitle. This is no polemic, no partisan salvo. The authors are serious scholars and talented writers. They have lauded the goals of affirmative action, but after years of studying the results of racial preferences in academic admissions, they conclude that minorities are more hurt than helped by them. At the heart of this failure is a phenomenon the authors describe as “mismatch.” The authors explain:

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