The Races of Mankind – Nesturkh

In this post, we will see the book The Races of Mankind by M. Nesturkh.


About the book (from the Preface):

This present book, by Professor M. F. Nesturkh, is based on the methodological principles of Soviet anthropology and the factual data obtained by that science. The author connects the origin of the races with the origin of mankind as a whole and acquaints the reader with the present status of these two problems; he deals at length with the history of the formation, dissemination and mingling of individual anthropological (racial) types and their groups, uses facts to expose the reactionary nature of racism and proves that it has no foundation in science.

Professor Nesturkh naturally devotes greater attention to anthropology proper, but he makes extensive use of other natural and social sciences-comparative anatomy, physiology, palaeontology, archaeology, ethnography, psychology, and linguisticsin accordance with Frederick Engels’s well-known postulate that anthropology is the transition from the morphology and physiology of man and his races to history.

It must not be thought that Professor Nesturkh’s book is limited to an exposure of racism. The problems dealt with are of a much broader cognitive significance. Among other things the reader will find the latest information on the anthropoids of the Tertiary period (the distant ancestors of man and the modern anthropoid apes), the earliest hominids (Pithecanthropus and Sinanthropus), Neanderthal man and the fossil men of the modern type. The author also deals with the natural selection of the earliest men, geographical isolation, inter-racial crossing, the times and places in which the great races were formed, the ways in which they became disseminated and the relation of tribes, nationalities and nations to the races. He takes the reader on a journey through the animal kingdom to the world of man and introduces him to the beginnings of human history, in the course of which the laws of evolution that apply to the organic world have been replaced by the qualitatively new laws of social development.

In the final chapter Professor Nesturkh, in addition to his exposureof racism, touches on such important scientific problems as “Race and Language”, “Race and Mentality”. He adduces convincing evidence of the absence of any causal relation between the racial groups and language groups of mankind; he also shows that all modern races and nations are identical in their mental abilities. Stress is properly laid on the tremendous successes of communist construction in the U.S.S.R. and socialist construction of the People’s Democracies of Europe and Asia. The experience of these countries has completely destroyed the reactionary myth that mankind is divided into “higher” and “lower” races and shown that all peoples, irrespective of their racial make-up, are capable of developing genuinely progressive culture and science. The unscientific concept of racism is also refuted by the economic, political and cultural development of the young states in Asia, Africa and Latin America, recently liberated from the yoke of colonialism.

A Western reviewer Coon has this to say about the book:

Its bibliogarphy of 43 sources include only two non-Soviet works, one by Charles Darwin and the other by Marx and Engels. All of the photographs have been retouched, and none accredited to its proper source; many are easily recognizable.

The text is divided into four sections : Definition of the Races of
Mankind, Races and Origins of Man, The Origin of Races, and Races and Racism. In Section One, Nesturkh follows the threefold classification of ” great races ” devised by the aforementioned Cheboksarov in 1956: (1) Negroid or Afro-Asian, (2) Europeoid or Eurasian, and (3) Mongoloid or Asio- American. Under the first category he lumps Negroes, Pygmies, Bushmen, Negritos, Australian aborigines, Tasmanians, and Melanesians.

Genetics is studiously avoided, except once, apparently a slip. Classifications of race by blood groups are passed by in silence.

He uses the word mutation once (the previously mentioned slip) to explain the parallel evolution of the African and Australoid dwarfs, and in this I agree.

The last Section is on “racists” whom he blasts but does not name, and on “racism ” which he says can be explained very simply, as follows : “The theory of ‘ higher’ and ‘ lower 5 races, of the right of one race to dominate over another, justifies war between nations – it is the ideological mask concealing imperialistic politics” (p. 98).

Having explained “racism” he then tries to disprove it. This too is very simple. According to him, the ” racists ” claim that rich people are dolichocephalic and poor people mesocephalic or brachycephalic. But in Sweden the “bourgeois,” workers, and peasants all have cephalic indices of 77.0. So much for “racism.”

He disproves Aryanism by showing, like Boas, that language is acquired independently of racial features. As a final blow, he discredits intelligence tests. ” Bourgeois ” scientists, he says, believe in intelligence tests, while “genuine scientists, of course, display a sharply negative attitude toward them” (p. 102).

He ends with a pean of praise for the elysian treatment of minorities
in the U. S. S. R., overlooking the forced migrations of the Kalmucks and others, the recurrent waves of anti-Semitism, and the recent troubles with African students.

It is important for educated Americans to read this book, alongside some of our domestic books and articles on the same subject.

Carleton S. Coon Human Biology, Vol. 37, No. 1 (February, 1965), pp. 57-59

The era when the book was published (in the 1960s) the Soviet science was just coming out of the pseudoscientific theories of Lysenko, who was a leading figure in the biological sciences in Soviet Russian from 1940s-50s. After he became director of the Institute of Genetics within the USSR’s Academy of Sciences, he used this position of power along with his political connections to push for anti-Mendelian doctrines in Soviet science and education. Soviet scientists who refused to renounce genetics were dismissed from their posts and left destitute. Hundreds if not thousands of others were imprisoned. Several were sentenced to death as enemies of the state, including the botanist Nikolai Vavilov. Scientific dissent from Lysenko’s theories of environmentally acquired inheritance was formally outlawed in the Soviet Union in 1948. Though Lysenko remained at his post in the Institute of Genetics until 1965, his influence on Soviet agricultural practice had declined by the 1950s. [some text from his wikipage] So it is no wonder, that Nesturkh’s book makes scant references to the idea of genetics and is driven by a larger agenda of the ideology of the state. The state of Soviet biology never fully recovered from this setback. Meanwhile, mainly due to efforts of Sakhrov (I may be wrong here), the physical sciences could actually work mostly without much interference from the state ideology.

The book was translated from the Russian by George Hanna and was designed by Vladimir An. The book was first published by Foreign Languages Publishing House in 1964/1966 (as no date is printed on the book).

PDF | OCR | Cover | Bookmarked | 146 p.

Original scan by IA user. We cleaned, OCRed, Bookmarked, added the cover.

The Internet Archive link.







I. Racial Characteristics and Their Study 11

2. The Negroid Great Race 18

3. The Europeoid Great Race 23

4· The Mongoloid Great Race 25

5· Features Common to All Races 29


1. Fossil Men of the Modern Type 31

2. Neanderthal Man-the Ancestor of Modern Man 33

3. Earliest Man-the Ancestor of the Neanderthaler  36

4. The Anthropoids-the Ancestors of the Earliest Men 41

5. The Racial Peculiarities of Man and the Anthropoid Type of

Structure 46

6. The Main Features of the Structure of the Human Body: Band,

Foot, Brain 52


1. The Races of Mankind-the Result of Historical Development 57

2. Geographical and Social Isolation 59

3. Natural Selection 61

4. Intermarriage 63

5. The Formation of the Great Races 66

6. The Europeoid Great Race 69

7. The Negroid Great Race 75

8. The Mongoloid Great Race 89


1. The Essence of Racism  96

2. Race and Language 99

3· Race and Mentality 101

4· Equality of Races and Nations in the U.S.S.R 105

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