Caste The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
Poetically written and brilliantly researched, Caste invites us to discover the inner workings of an American hierarchy that goes far beyond the confines of race, class, or gender.
A book steeped in empathy and insight, Caste explores, through layered analysis and stories of real people, the structure of an unspoken system of human ranking and reveals how our lives are still restricted by what divided us centuries ago.
“Modern-day caste protocols,” Wilkerson writes, “are often less about overt attacks or conscious hostility. They are like the wind, powerful enough to knock you down but invisible as they go about their work.”
Wilkerson rigorously defines eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, heredity, and dehumanization. She documents the parallels with two other hierarchies in history, those of India and of Nazi Germany, and no reader will be left without a greater understanding of the price we all pay in a society torn by artificial divisions.
“The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality,” Wilkerson writes. “It is about power — which groups have it and which do not.”
Before its release, the Chicago Tribune declared that Caste “should be at the top of every American’s reading list.” Dwight Garner, the chief critic of The New York Times, called Caste “an instant American classic and almost certainly the keynote nonfiction book of the American century thus far.”
Upon publication, Oprah Winfrey announced that Caste was her Summer 2020 pick for Oprah’s Book Club and proclaimed it “the most essential, the most necessary-for-all-humanity book that I have chosen.”