THE TIME NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR | #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“Powerful and timely … I cannot recommend it strongly enough” – Barack Obama
From one of America’s most celebrated and insightful writers, the moving, eye-opening bestseller about what lies hidden under the surface of ordinary lives
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.
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 we can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.
‘Required reading for all of humanity’ Oprah Winfrey
“If you haven’t read it yet, you absolutely must.” – Edward Enninful, Vogue
‘An instant American classic’ Dwight Garner, The New York Times