This work, first published in 1992, was updated 10 years later to reflect the changing realities of race in America. The 1992 book is considered a classic with its key argument that the persistence of racism made the United States in the 1990s a fulfillment of the predictions of the Kerner Commission Report on the 1960s race riots 24 years earlier. That report predicted a country consisting of "two societies — one black, one white — separate and unequal."

Hacker, a professor of political science at Queens College, marshals an impressive array of statistics to establish a case of ongoing discrimination against blacks, as evident in racial differentials for family life, earnings, employment, education, and crimes. Why have welfare reform, educational renewal in the inner cities, and affirmative action not succeeded? Hacker believes the fault lies in the need of whites to feel superior to blacks: "A nation that has done so much to stress racial divisions should not be surprised if the result is not compassion and fellow feeling, but withdrawal and recrimination."

Two Nations regrettably captures and conveys the truth of the terrible divisions in American society and the paucity of hope for healing any time soon.