Caste The Origins of Our Discontents Author:Isabel Wilkerson “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 Wil... more »kerson 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.« less
I vey rarely write a review. This is not an easy book to read. The subject matter exists deep within our culture and experience. It is extra-ordinary well documented and written by Isabel Wilkerson who has done a great job explaining Caste and how it affects our lives. I am honored to have read this book and to learn so much about our prejudices and preconceptions of people that are a big part of our lives and our country. By reading at most 1 or 2 chapters a day I was able to think about her thoughts and conclusions and understand how they affect our lives, friendships and families. It is a book that everyone in America should read.
fra - reviewed Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents on
Even going into this after reading reviews and therefore knowing it was more US-centric than international, I found it disappointing. The writing structure is multiple anecdotes per chapter followed by a sum-up of what Wilkerson was wanting to illustrate with those stories. It was not very intersectional and rarely mentioned groups outside of black and white when discussing the United States. While the anecdotes definitely have value it read more like a pop-social science book to me, which I suppose is the author's intention but not to my taste in nonfiction.
Wilkerson's prose is excellent and it is worth checking out if you don't mind the structure.