White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America

By Nancy Isenberg
The New York Times bestseller
A New York Times Notable and Critics' Top Book of 2016
Longlisted for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction
One of NPR's 10 Best Books Of 2016 Faced Tough Topics Head On
NPR's Book Concierge Guide To 2016's Great Reads
San Francisco Chronicle's Best of 2016: 100 recommended books
A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2016
Globe & Mail 100 Best of 2016

-Formidable and truth-dealing . . . necessary.- --The New York Times
-This eye-opening investigation into our country's entrenched social hierarchy is acutely relevant.- --O Magazine

In her groundbreaking bestselling history of the class system in America, Nancy Isenberg upends history as we know it by taking on our comforting myths about equality and uncovering the crucial legacy of the ever-present, always embarrassing--if occasionally entertaining--poor white trash.

-When you turn an election into a three-ring circus, there's always a chance that the dancing bear will win, - says Isenberg of the political climate surrounding Sarah Palin. And we recognize how right she is today. Yet the voters who boosted Trump all the way to the White House have been a permanent part of our American fabric, argues Isenberg.
The wretched and landless poor have existed from the time of the earliest British colonial settlement to today's hillbillies. They were alternately known as -waste people, - -offals, - -rubbish, - -lazy lubbers, - and -crackers.- By the 1850s, the downtrodden included so-called -clay eaters- and -sandhillers, - known for prematurely aged children distinguished by their yellowish skin, ragged clothing, and listless minds.
Surveying political rhetoric and policy, popular literature and scientific theories over four hundred years, Isenberg upends assumptions about America's supposedly class-free society--where liberty and hard work were meant to ensure real social mobility. Poor whites were central to the rise of the Republican Party in the early nineteenth century, and the Civil War itself was fought over class issues nearly as much as it was fought over slavery. Reconstruction pitted poor white trash against newly freed slaves, which factored in the rise of eugenics--a widely popular movement embraced by Theodore Roosevelt that targeted poor whites for sterilization. These poor were at the heart of New Deal reforms and LBJ's Great Society; they haunt us in reality TV shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty. Marginalized as a class, white trash have always been at or near the center of major political debates over the character of the American identity.

We acknowledge racial injustice as an ugly stain on our nation's history. With Isenberg's landmark book, we will have to face the truth about the enduring, malevolent nature of class as well.


    REVIEW QUOTES
"Formidable and truth-dealing...necessary." - The New York Times "This eye-opening investigation into our country's entrenched social hierarchy is acutely relevant." -O Magazine "A gritty and sprawling assault on...American mythmaking." --Washington Post "An eloquent synthesis of the country's history of class stratification." -The Boston Globe "A bracing reminder of the persistent contempt for the white underclass." -The Atlantic "[White Trash] sheds bright light on a long history of demagogic national politicking, beginning with Jackson. It makes Donald Trump seem far less unprecedented than today's pundits proclaim."--Slate "Isenberg . . . has written an important call for Americans to treat class with the same care that they now treat race...Her work may well help that focus lead to progress." --TIME "With her strong academic background and accessible voice, Isenberg takes pains to reveal classism's deep-seated roots."-Entertainment Weekly "Carefully researched...deeply relevant." -Christian Science Monitor
Formidable and truth-dealing necessary. The New York Times With the election looming, this eye-opening investigation into our country s entrenched social hierarchy is acutely relevant. O Magazine A gritty and sprawling assault on American mythmaking. Washington Post An eloquent synthesis of the country s history of class stratification. The Boston Globe A bracing reminder of the persistent contempt for the white underclass. The Atlantic [White Trash] sheds bright light on a long history of demagogic national politicking, beginning with Jackson. It makes Donald Trump seem far less unprecedented than today s pundits proclaim. Slate Isenberg . . . has written an important call for Americans to treat class with the same care that they now treat race Her work may well help that focus lead to progress. TIME With her strong academic background and accessible voice, Isenberg takes pains to reveal classism s deep-seated roots. Entertainment Weekly Carefully researched deeply relevant. Christian Science Monitor "
"A bracing reminder of the persistent contempt for the white underclass." -The Atlantic An eloquent synthesis of the country s history of class stratification, one that questions whether the United States is indeed a place where all are created equal. White Trash powerfully unites four centuries of history economic, political, cultural, and pseudo-scientific to show how thoroughly the notion of class is woven into the national fabric. The Boston Globe An eloquent volume that is more discomforting and more necessary than a semitrailer filled with new biographies of the founding fathers and the most beloved presidents . . . This estimable book rides into the summer doldrums like rural electrification. Dwight Garner, The New York Times [White Trash] sheds bright light on a long history of demagogic national politicking, beginning with Jackson. It makes Donald Trump seem far less unprecedented than today s pundits proclaim. Slate Isenberg . . . has written an important call for Americans to treat class with the same care that they now treat race. . . . Her work may well help that focus lead to progress. TIME magazine With her strong academic background and accessible voice, Isenberg takes pains to reveal classism s deep-seated roots. Entertainment Weekly, Must List [White Trash] is a carefully researched indictment of a particularly American species of hypocrisy, and it s deeply relevant to the pathologies of contemporary America. Christian Science Monitor What makes people whom Trump has never cared about before this election so eager to see him as their spokesman? What in tarnation do they see in his vague bluster and thinly coded racist remarks? For answers to these and other questions, look no further than Nancy Isenberg s fascinating and unsettling new book . . . [a] meticulously researched survey of the class system in America. Atlanta Journal Constitution Here is a book that should forever change the way we think and talk about class, which Isenberg suggests is the rotting stage upon which American democracy will either stand or fall. The American Scholar It s a contentious subject that deserves a larger academic discussion. With any luck, Isenberg sWhite Trashwill serve as the opening arguments from which a broader discussion arises. PopMatters "
Praise for "Madison and Jefferson" [A] satisfyingly rich dual biography [that] promotes Madison from junior partner to full-fledged colleague of the more magnetic Jefferson. . . . An important, thoughtful, and gracefully written political history from the viewpoint of the young nation s two most intellectual founding fathers. Publishers Weekly (starred review) Extensive and well researched . . . [A]n important reappraisal of a critical partnership that shaped our early republic. Jay Freeman Praise for "Fallen Founder" Isenberg s meticulous biography reveals a gifted lawyer, politician, and orator who championed civility in government and even feminist ideals, in a political climate that bears a marked resemblance to our own. "The Washington Post" Full of insight and new research. It is an important and engaging account. " The New York Times Book Review" [A] sterling biography. " The Boston Globe""



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About the Hardcover

Publisher Viking
Publish date 06/21/2016
Pages 480
ISBN-13 9780670785971
ISBN-10 0670785970
Language English

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