Caste: The Lies That Divide Us

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OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK • 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.

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

'The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power - which groups have it and which do not'

Beyond race or class, our lives are defined by a powerful, unspoken system of divisions. In Caste, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson gives an astounding portrait of this hidden phenomenon. Linking America, India and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson reveals how our world has been shaped by caste - and how its rigid, arbitrary hierarchies still divide us today.

With clear-sighted rigour, Wilkerson unearths the eight pillars that connect caste systems across civilizations, and demonstrates how our own era of intensifying conflict and upheaval has arisen as a consequence of caste. Weaving in stories of real people, she shows how its insidious undertow emerges every day; she documents its surprising health costs; and she explores its effects on culture and politics. Finally, Wilkerson points forward to the ways we can - and must - move beyond its artificial divisions, towards our common humanity.

Beautifully written and deeply original, Caste is an eye-opening examination of what lies beneath the surface of ordinary lives. No one can afford to ignore the moral clarity of its insights, or its urgent call for a freer, fairer world.

Author: Isabel Wilkerson

Paperback Published 4 August 2020 

Read and Recommended by Hendri:

"Written accessibly and eloquently, Isabel Wilkerson's Caste provides us with a cogent analysis to look beyond race or class. More precisely, Wilkinson looks at how 'caste' and 'race' are not mutually exclusive, and thus co-exist together to reinforce the existing hierarchy. By portraying the relationship between America, India, and Nazi Germany while simultaneously providing the first-hand accounts from the author's lived experience, Caste uncovers how Nazi Germany learned from the oppression of Black Americans to justify its atrocities, and equally, how Indian intellectuals and activists were inspired by the U.S. abolitionists to challenge the caste system. Providing a crosscutting optic through which to map the interlocking foundations of caste, Wilkerson identifies how the current oppressive system continues to reproduce itself by pitting members of marginalised groups against each other, controlling marriage and mating, and using terror and cruelty, among others. Her analysis, however, does focus on not only politics and history, but also her personal experience. From being harassed at planes and a restaurant, for instance, due to her racial identity, Wilkerson's experience will leave readers with an urgently-need moral compass, to examine the bias that we might have to perpetuate the hierarchies, the lies that continuously divide us."

“An instant American classic.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“[Caste] should be at the top of every American’s reading list.”Chicago Tribune

“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.”The Washington Post

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