Our beliefs, prejudices, interactions, self-image, self-regard, personality: all the things we ascribe to our individuality, for Wilkerson, are confined by the codes of caste. Wilkerson surveys the damage caste has caused, and humanely demonstrates how caste can be cast aside. — Mike Hare
This book should be on any and every reading list, especially in this era of civil and social unrest and is a perfect pairing with books like How To be An Antiracist by Kendi or Stony the Road by Henry Louis Gates Jr. What I love about Wilkerson's book is her passion, anger, fears and her sense of justice do not cloud her journalistic abilities but are enhanced by her skills at being a storyteller and a researcher. Those passions illuminate and reverberate with the reader through her personal accounts as well as her histories of the whole concepts and misconceptions of "race". I personally think this book should be required reading for Social Services and the Police Dept. — Maeve Noonan
#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.