Caste (Oprah's Book Club) - Isabel Wilkerson

Caste (Oprah's Book Club)

Author: Isabel Wilkerson

  • Publication Date: 2020-08-04
  • Category: Social Science
4 Score: 4
(From 2,055 Ratings)


#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK • “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.

NAMED THE #1 NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR BY TIME, ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY People The Washington Post Publishers Weekly AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review O: The Oprah Magazine • NPR • BloombergChristian Science MonitorNew York Post • The New York Public Library • FortuneSmithsonian MagazineMarie Claire Town & Country SlateLibrary Journal Kirkus Reviews LibraryReads PopMatters

Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize • National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist • Dayton Literary Peace Prize Finalist • PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction Finalist • PEN/Jean Stein Book Award Longlist

“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 outcasting 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.



    By Razzcale
    A most fascinating read. Biting in fact, and sensitive in description. I fear that the ones who may benefit the most from reading this book, may have no intention at all of ever picking it up.
  • Powerful and in-depth

    By Mrs. Allen1808
    Such a powerful and in-depth review of the constructs of social economic and political oppression that many have faced globally not just here in the US how it presents here in the United States it’s just extremely unique because of our history with slavery and the foundation in which our nation was establish and those situations of individuals flea Europe to seek a new beginning.
  • Very Good

    By CharlotteFlair101
    Many good points brought up that should be acknowledged, many that Republicans have often tried to cloud or “change the subject when brought up and they should also acknowledge instead of being so close-minded and deceptive.
  • A must read for the twenty first century moving forward

    By airjudd
    Loved this book.
  • Thank you

    By Alegria99
    Very informative and easy to understand there is no way in between we’re all in this together and should love one another as God has intended. I am so grateful to better understand from people who endured or have endured but make no mistake about it there memories live on and so shall we in a place we can all love and share are God given talents. Thank you Ed
  • Articulate

    The author articulates a racist system in a way that makes it easier to dismantle.
  • Accurate and superficial.

    By luiggispodMD
    This book just adds to the list of those that corrupt Hegelian master slave dialectics and take it to an extreme. Accurately describes the caste systems and but Author’s diagnosis is incomplete and at best, superficial.
  • Read, Read, Read

    By pkmetz
    Wonderful, sad, surprising, important, educational, historical. Everyone should read this book.
  • The book reshapes my view of my country

    By App-preciation
    The Caste opened my eyes to the flimsy and faulty justice in the documents of the very selective U.S. founding fathers. To read about the government-sanctioned atrocities of Africans in this country and to see plainly how the world has supported the hierarchy of white wins over all melanated makes me want to further expose the country and its flaws. As an African American, it also lifts in me a spirit to bond with others oppressed around the world - recognizing that caste is not only a real part of our history, but it is alive and thriving today. This book makes it easy to see how it works, why it exists and how it impacts our world.
  • Wow, So that’s what I felt my whole life

    By K071785
    Wow, so that’s what I’ve felt my whole life and didn’t understand why or how “it” got like it is today in the world, especially here - in the “good ol’ US of A.” I believe is has chaged my action towards and with others of my species - human-beings.