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


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The New York Times Bestseller A ground-breaking history of the class system in America, which challenges popular myths about equality in the land of opportunity. In this landmark book, Nancy Isenberg argues that the voters who boosted Trump all the way to the White House have been a permanent part of the American fabric, and reveals how the wretched and landless poor have existed from the time of the earliest British colonial settlements to today's hillbillies. Poor whites were central to the rise of the Republican Party in ...

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Feb 10, 2019

I'm not really sure what the prior reviewer is talking about. Isenberg is a historian of the early United States, and reviews of her book say that it's overall good, but she's trying to send A Message. If that's not your thing, that's fine!

I found the book interesting because Isenberg's frame of reference tends to be how the generations around the Revolutionary War have been viewed, and especially how the modern US is living up to that example (or failing to live up to it). As the title/introduction/etc. say, she's writing about the most under-privileged white people in the United States--people who were looked down upon, poorer, and less educated than, well, just about everyone else. That means they didn't get a chance to write much for themselves and they don't get to push back on the characterizations until pretty recently. Isenberg's sections on the South and particularly North Carolina are quite good (and some college there should definitely consider renaming their mascot the "Renegadoes"), but she spends plenty of time on northern states too. Just don't go in looking for a rose-tinted view of the "Southern lower middle class"--that's another book entirely!


Mar 22, 2017

Very disappointed

I thought this book would be a sympathetic study of underprivileged people who have always existed in all parts of the USA. It isn't.
Some Southern man must have broken Nancy Isenberg's heart; that is the only reason I can think of that could have generated such a vitriolic book.
It is also historically inaccurate; she cherry picks the facts to support the thesis that poor whites ( who apparently only exist in the South ) are genetically predisposed to laziness, poor health, and extreme bigotry. She ignores the historical position of the Southern lower middle class and also the poor whites who live outside of the South. This author is not a historian, despite her credentials, and professional critical reviews of her book have been unfavorable.

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