Common Ground (book)

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Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families is a nonfiction book by J. Anthony Lukas, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1985, that examines race relations in Boston, Massachusetts through the prism of desegregation busing.[1] It received the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction,[2] the National Book Award,[3] and the National Book Critics Circle Award.[4] The book traces the history of three families: the African-American Twymons, the Irish McGoffs and the Yankee Divers. It gives brief genealogical histories of each families, focusing on how the events they went through illuminated Boston history, before narrowing its focus to the racial tension of the 1960s and the 1970s.

Each family is directly involved in the busing crisis. The McGoffs are proud residents of Charlestown who see an attempt to change the dynamics of their school as an assault on their culture. The Twymons have long endured sub-standard education and are hoping that busing will finally change this. Colin Diver is a Harvard Law School graduate and assistant to Mayor Kevin White. He is in favor of busing, but the effects hit home when he learns that it may result in his own son being bused to a foreign neighborhood.

In addition to the family stories, Common Ground examines many of the issues related to busing, including the protest movements, the disaffection between the "two-toilet" Irish middle-class and their working-class brethren, the impact of busing on national politics, and the evolution of the city's newsmedia.


  1. ^ Lukas, J. Anthony (1985). Common ground: a turbulent decade in the lives of three American families. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 0-394-74616-3. 
  2. ^ "General Nonfiction". Past winners & finalists by category. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2012-03-25. 
  3. ^ "National Book Awards – 1985". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
  4. ^ "Past Winners". National Book Critics Circle. Archived from the original on 2006-03-31. Retrieved 2006-04-24. 

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