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White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America Hardcover – 4 May 2017

4.3 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; Main edition (4 May 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1786492989
  • ISBN-13: 978-1786492982
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 4.4 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

A masterly and ambitious cultural history of changing concepts of class and inferiority. New York Times (Notable Book of the Year) A gritty and sprawling assault on... American mythmaking Washington Post A bracing reminder of the persistent contempt for the white underclass. The Atlantic This eye-opening investigation into our country's entrenched social hierarchy is acutely relevant. O Magazine An eloquent synthesis of the country's history of class stratification. Boston Globe [White Trash] sheds bright light on a long history of demagogic national politicking, beginning with Jackson. It makes Donald Trump seem far less unprecedented than today's pundits proclaim. Slate spirited... Isenberg's book will come as a bracing surprise. Sunday Times

Book Description

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.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book really opened my eyes. Having been born and raised in America, we always used to ridicule Britain's "class consciousness" when, in fact, class is just as important in America and social mobility just as limited. This book should be mandatory reading as it exposes many of our national myths to be just that...myths.
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This is a book worth reading but does repeat itself
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By C. Ball TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 3 Aug. 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
America, we are always told, is a classless society. It's part of the American myth, part of the American Dream, the idea that no-one is defined by their birth, that anyone can make it big, that no-one is held back by their 'place in society'. But that, as Nancy Isenberg, ably demonstrates, is nonsense. The absence of an aristocracy does not a classless society make. America is, and always has been, a nation with a large white underclass, and it is this 'white trash' class that this book focuses on.

The issue of class in America has always been riven by issues of race and ethnicity, but in this book Isenberg's primary focus is white poverty and how that has been complicated by racial issues. When class issues have been debated it usually been defined by the dynamic of black v. white, but as Isenberg demonstrates, that polarising issue of race often obscures the very real class elements that have existed as a relatively ignored undercurrent in American history for a very long time.

From America's very earliest roots as a dumping ground for the 'waste people' of Britain to Virginia's planter aristocracy, from Andrew Jackson's 'cracker' Presidency to squatters on Native American lands; from the Confederacy's framing of the Civil War as the 'cavaliers' of the South against the 'mudsills' of the North to the post-Civil War scalawags and carpetbaggers; from the forgotten men of the Great Depression to the 'country boy' cult of the 1960s embodied in Elvis and LBJ; from the 1980s white trash evangelists to the modern recent triumph of 'redneck chic' and politicians defined by their 'common' roots such as Bill Clinton or Sarah Palin - class has always been an element in American society and shows no sign of disappearing anytime soon.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Bought this with "The Common Cause: Creating Race and Nation in in the American Revolution." Together, they make for a good education on the similarities between race and class prejudice and how both have factored in colonial and post-colonial politics in North America. While specifically about the 13 colonies and the USA, the two books say much that applies equally well to the United Kingdom and its other former colonies.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is a very odd book. The author spends many opening pages summarising the book To Kill A Mockingbird, in order to explain that the Ewell family is an example of white trash. Incidentally, in so doing she shows an ignorance of the main character Atticus Finch. He is not the brave, principled lawyer as portrayed in the film of the book by Gregory Peck. If she had listened to Harper Lee and read and understood her sequel book, Isenberg would have realised that Finch was an out and out racist.

Now this book. The author , a professor of history, goes to great lengths in an overlong book to describe how white trash have been portrayed in American literature, film and on television. She argues, unconvincingly, that Americans have a poor appreciation of class. I beg to differ, while living their doing research I found they had a sound understanding. In America, of course, society, unlike the U.K, is divided by wealth not who you are.

The author claims that America has always had a class system. The poor, the trash, the waste, the rubbish, have, she claims, always been at the front and centre during America's political contests. Poor whites have always been classified as a distinct breed. She names a long list of people, presidents, writers, politicians and artists who have throughout the ages contributed to the saga of the country's embattled ' lowly breed'. Notably, these are judged by today's standards, a crass error for a historian

This is an unbalanced, poorly researched and unwieldy account. That the American Dream is a sham is indisputable correct. That America is a land of the free is also a lie. If you have millions, you have few problems. Her example of the ghastly Clinton's is apt .
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By jan on 12 Dec. 2016
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Haven't finished this yet,but so far an engaging book that dispels the myths of the founding fathers of America
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Format: Kindle Edition
Nancy Eisenberg tells us what we never learned in school of the “400 – Year Untold History of Class in America.”

Yes most of us are so busy that our only history is what we got when we were in school. Walt Disney among others reinforce what we learned in school for their own nefarious ends.

We all know that George Washington did not have wooden teeth. But the story of Columbus changed back and forth over years. First “Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492.” Then came Thor Heyerdahl; all you had to do is fall in the water and you would turn up in America. Then came DNA research and evidently nobody fell in the water from Europe. Back and forth history always changes.

Now read the history of class in America. In the process many other history myths are exposed that shows how we mask the fact that there is class in America.

Many economists point out that we must have a middle-class to be able to buy cars and houses so forth for the economy. Countries without a middle-class do not survive long as a two class state is very unstable and for some reason not nice. Nancy Eisenberg brings out the point that if you’re going to have a middle-class then you have to have it in the middle of something and therefore there has to be an upper-class and a lower.

I’m not gonna bring up all the points of the book because that’s why you’re going to buy it however missing reading this book you will be stuck with your grade school/high school history and an in-depth look of the class in America that’s been around us before there was an America.

Personally I always wanted to be trailer trash however I can’t afford to store my 9000+ hardcopy library and a trailer along with the cats.

All kidding aside I think you’ll find this a fascinating view and the literature of notes at the end of the book will help you find further reading material on the subject.
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