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An elegantly reasoned, wonderfully researched and deeply moving new book… Masur’s skill at teasing the symbolic resonance from the photo’s structure and composition is impressive, as is his treatment of the flag as national icon. He displays his real skill as a historian, however, in his remarkably clear and fair-minded synopses of tangled racial histories. Boston’s certainly is one of those, and you won’t find a better or more crystalline account of it than in “The Soiling of Old Glory.” His sketch of precisely how the Boston school crisis develops is a small model of detailed economy and essential context… Masur’s elegantly clear-eyed analysis of this famous photo and the people and conditions that actually produced it proffers, if not a counter maximum, a parallel one: All politics are local until they become symbolic — and then they belong to us all.