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Sept. Book Club Preview

Our book club has a popular non-fiction read chosen for September! We're reading Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson. Stay tuned for the breakdown on the book, author, and meeting.

Our next meeting is Thursday, September 28th at 5 pm, in person and virtual sessions.

About the book-

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.

“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 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 America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.

About the author-

Isabel Wilkerson is an American journalist and the author of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration (2010) and Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents (2020). She is the first woman of African-American heritage to win the Pulitzer Prize in journalism. Wilkerson was the editor-in-chief of the Howard University college newspaper, interned at the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post, and became the Chicago Bureau Chief of The New York Times. She also taught at Emory, Princeton, Northwestern, and Boston University. Wilkerson interviewed over a thousand people for The Warmth of Other Suns, which documents the stories of African Americans who migrated to northern and western cities during the 20th century. Her book Caste identifies the racial hierarchy in the United States as a caste system. Both books were best-sellers.

Isabel Wilkerson was born in Washington, D.C. in 1961 to parents who left Virginia during the Great Migration. Her father was one of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II and became a bridge engineer after the war. She has been the James M. Cox Professor of Journalism at Emory University, Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University and the Kreeger-Wolf endowed lecturer at Northwestern University and Professor of Journalism and Director of Narrative Nonfiction at Boston University's College of Communication. She also served as a board member of the National Arts in Journalism Program at Columbia University.

Intrigued by the book and want to get in on the fun? Check out our ebook copy from WV Reads!

Have you read this book an enjoyed it? Let us know your thoughts! We love to hear from readers on our social media pages or even in person.

As always, images and info are courtesy of other web pages such as Google, Goodreads, and Wikipedia, etc.

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