Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents (Large Print / Library Binding)
"In The Origins of Our Discontent, Wilkerson has given us a well- researched history of the caste system in three countries: India, Nazi Germany, and the United States. The caste system in India is almost impossible to escape if you live in India; no one changes or moves out of the caste into which they were born, if you are in a low caste there is almost no hope for you to make a better life unless you can escape from India. Nazi Germany based much of their philosophy on what they learned from the US on how to keep African Americans inferior. They then applied it to their situation. This is horrifying!
In the United States where we continually talk, write, and protest about race our problems are more than about race. Many of us have placed African Americans in the lowest caste because it automatically makes everyone else in a higher caste which causes multiple problems. One is how to rationalize the success of many people of color. If we follow the caste system (which we do without realizing it) this diminishes others – this is frightening because it diminishes some of us and we feel threatened. If those of color rise in status then who is in the lowest caste? This is a book everyone should read."— Susan
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - OPRAH'S BOOK CLUB PICK - LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD - "An instant American classic and almost certainly the keynote nonfiction book of the American century thus far."--Dwight Garner, The New York Times
The Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author of The Warmth of Other Suns examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions. "As we go about our daily lives, caste is the wordless usher in a darkened theater, flashlight cast down in the aisles, guiding us to our assigned seats for a performance. The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power--which groups have it and which do not." In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings. Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people's lives and behavior and the nation's fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people--including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball's Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others--she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity. Beautifully written, original, and revealing, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is an eye-opening story of people and history, and a reexamination of what lies under the surface of ordinary lives and of American life today.
About the Author
Isabel Wilkerson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, is the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller The Warmth of Other Suns. Her debut work won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction and was named to Time's 10 Best Nonfiction Books of the 2010s and The New York Times's list of the Best Nonfiction of All Time. She has taught at Princeton, Emory, and Boston Universities and has lectured at more than two hundred other colleges and universities across the United States and in Europe and Asia.