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Caste
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A startling and transformative account of how we are all tied up in a caste system, from NYT-bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson

About the Author

Isabel Wilkerson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, is the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller The Warmth of Other Suns. Her debut work won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction and was included in Time's 10 Best Nonfiction Books of the 2010s and in The New York Times's list of the Best Nonfiction of All Time. She has taught at Princeton, Emory, and Boston Universities and has lectured at more than two hundred other colleges and universities across the United States and in Europe and Asia.

Reviews

Magnificent. Profound. Eye-opening. Sobering. Hopeful. -- Oprah Winfrey
Powerful and timely ... I cannot recommend it strongly enough -- Barack Obama
Extraordinary ... an instant American classic and almost certainly the keynote nonfiction book of the American century thus far ... It made the back of my neck prickle from its first pages, and that feeling never went away. Wilkerson has written a closely-argued book that largely avoids the word "racism," yet stares it down with more humanity and rigor than nearly all but a few books in our literature. It's a book that seeks to shatter a paralysis of will. It's a book that changes the weather inside a reader. -- Dwight Garner * The New York Times *
Impressively researched and well written ... If you haven't read Caste yet, you absolutely must. -- Edward Enninful * Vogue *
Such is Wilkerson's gift as a writer that she leaves you looking at the world differently. -- Afua Hirsch * Vogue *
Caste will spur readers to think and to feel in equal measure -- Kwame Anthony Appiah * New York Times Book Review *
Isabel Wilkerson's Caste is probably the most important piece of non-fiction published this year. -- Sarah Hughes * i News *
Surprising and arresting... the idea of caste challenges fundamental notions of America as a meritocratic society ... Wilkerson's epilogue feels like a prayer for a country in pain, offering new directions through prophetic new language -- Bilal Qureshi * Washington Post *
An expansive interrogation of racism, institutionalised inequality and injustice ... This is an American reckoning and so it should be. Wilkerson activates history in her pages, bringing all its horror and possibility to light. It is a painfully resonant book and could not have come at a more urgent time. -- Fatima Bhutto * Guardian *
Persuasive and unsettling ... beneath the veneer of meritocratic idealism lie deeper layers of the American psyche where white supremacy still reigns. But the case Wilkerson puts forward is inspiring and hopeful ... caste can be dismantled, setting everyone free. -- Ashish Ghadiali * Observer *
Important and timely ... America does not merely have a problem with "race", but it is also haunted by the ugly issue of caste, a set of embedded practices that presume it is natural - and correct - to divide humans into different groups and keep them in a hierarchy. ... If repudiation of past assumptions is the first step towards healing, Wilkerson's book offers a powerful frame for this. It is essential reading for anybody who feels angry, guilty or threatened by the tangled issue of "race" in America today. -- Gillian Tett * Financial Times *
Searching, gorgeously crafted... Wilkerson builds her arguments with nuance and meticulous research. Her reporting is nimble and her sentences exquisite... Caste is a luminous read, bearing its own torch of righteous wrath in a diamond-hard prose that will be admired and studied by future generations. -- Hamilton Cain * Star Tribune *
There is a deeper and more intractable system that hides behind the chimera of race, and that system is properly called American caste ... Wilkerson's book is a powerful, illuminating and heartfelt account of how hierarchy reproduces itself, as well as a call to action for the difficult work of undoing it. -- Kenneth W. Mack * Washington Post *
Magnificent . . . a trailblazing work on the birth of inequality . . . Caste offers a forward-facing vision. Bursting with insight and love, this book may well help save us * O: The Oprah Magazine *
Wilkerson's genius as a writer is her ability to tell you the big story of what happened, but to make that story matter by linking it to the lives of those who survived it. That is, to me, her unique contribution: what in the hands of another writer would feel like an abstraction attains, in her work, the vividness and emotional power of lived experience. -- Ezra Klein * Vox *
Haunting yet strangely consoling, in a world defined by its divides, Caste connects. It reveals the 'unseen skeleton' embedded in heinous acts of power but, in evocative prose that is full of poise, reminds us what's possible when people come together. I closed the book feeling enlightened and energised, ready to roll up my sleeves and get on with the good work. -- Johny Pitts
Propulsive...Should be required reading for generations to come. Caste removes the tenuous language of racial animus and replaces it with a sturdier lexicon based on power relationships. Using examples from around the world, Wilkerson demonstrates how the codification of caste has hardened economic and political inequality into seemingly permanent markers of difference. -- Joshunda Sanders * Boston Globe *
A transformative new framework through which to understand identity and injustice. -- Justin Worland * TIME *
Wonderful...Prepare to have your mind expanded, your heart break and your head slowly shake by Wilkerson's sublime combination of skilful, analytical dissection and raw, emotional testimony... -- Allen Sleith * Belfast Telegraph *
Caste makes a convincing, often scorching case that caste was there at the birth of the nation, and we wrestle every day with that legacy. It upsets the already rickety national myth that anyone in the United States can be anthing-albeit, without entirely abandoning that hope -- Christopher Borrelli * Chicago Tribune *
Vital, brilliant and necessary -- Kae Tempest
Destined to become a classic ... urgent, essential reading for all. * Library Journal (starred review) *
It should be at the top of every American's reading list. * Chicago Tribune *
This enthralling expose deserves a wide and impassioned readership." * Publishers Weekly (starred review) *
This is a brilliant book, well timed in the face of a pandemic and police brutality that cleave along the lines of a caste system. * Booklist (starred review) *
A consummate storyteller ... Isabel Wilkerson has written important book that reminds us of a comradeship of interwoven histories. * LA Review of Books *
Wilkerson's book arrives at a key inflection point, an opening for us to imagine, and then create, a system that's better than the one we've inherited. * Bloomberg *
PRAISE FOR THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS:
A brilliant and stirring epic, the first book to cover the full half-century of the Great Migration... Wilkerson combines impressive research...with great narrative and literary power. Ms. Wilkerson does for the Great Migration what John Steinbeck did for the Okies in his fiction masterpiece, The Grapes of Wrath; she humanizes history, giving it emotional and psychological depth.* Wall Street Journal *
A landmark piece of nonfiction . . . sure to hold many surprises for readers of any race or experience....A mesmerizing book that warrants comparison to The Promised Land, Nicholas Lemann's study of the Great Migration's early phase, and Common Ground, J. Anthony Lukas's great, close-range look at racial strife in Boston....[Wilkerson's] closeness with, and profound affection for, her subjects reflect her deep immersion in their stories and allow the reader to share that connection * New York Times *
[A] deeply affecting, finely crafted and heroic book. . . .Wilkerson has taken on one of the most important demographic upheavals of the past century--a phenomenon whose dimensions and significance have eluded many a scholar--and told it through the lives of three people no one has ever heard of....This is narrative nonfiction, lyrical and tragic and fatalist. The story exposes; the story moves; the story ends. What Wilkerson urges, finally, isn't argument at all; it's compassion. Hush, and listen. -- Jill Lepore * New Yorker *
Profound, necessary and an absolute delight to read -- Toni Morrison

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