The Warmth of Other Suns
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK • LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD • “An instant American classic and almost certainly the keynote nonfiction book of the American century thus far.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
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.
NAMED THE #1 NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR BY TIME MAGAZINE AND ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY People • The Washington Post • Publishers Weekly AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • O: The Oprah Magazine • NPR • Bloomberg • Christian Science Monitor • New York Post • The New York Public Library • Fortune • Smithsonian Magazine • Marie Claire • Town & Country • Slate • Library Journal • Kirkus Reviews • LibraryReads • PopMatters
LONGLISTED FOR THE PEN/JEAN STEIN BOOK AWARD AND THE PEN/JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH AWARD FOR NONFICTION
“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.
Beautifully written, original, and revealing, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is an eye-opening story of people and history, and a reexamination of what lies under the surface of ordinary lives and of American life today.
Incredibly well written analysis of why humans drift towards tribes. A truly thought provoking book, but be warned. It's not a feel good book.
I’ve always felt that I was a “woke” individual but I learned so much from this book and the the mindset of those who do not share my belief. Unfortunately those who should read this, will not, but it touched me! Loved it!!
A compelling argument and fresh look at race in America. The rare work of informative non-fiction that is also beautifully written.
i am shiryu the dragon
This is basically the template for the current neo-“liberal” race-based movement. I should move to China and write this book, replacing “white” with “Chinese.” The superimposition of caste structure atop the ALREADY EXISTING social structure of, and within, the US is as artificial as race itself. To then ascribe success of “racial” groups to race in and of itself, ignoring patterns of immigration, wealth-building and cultural value systems is as stupid as trying to attribute the myth of the “gender” pay gap solely to whether you’re male or female, ignoring behavioral traits that are more commonly found in males (aggressive, argumentative) vs those more commonly found in females (passive, agreeable). While it is true that blacks have been overtly discriminated against in the US and ACROSS THE WORLD, the book fails to explain CURRENT opportunities for social mobility post-anti-discrimination act, fails to acknowledge the existence of successful, wealthy blacks and black families across the US, and fails to draw parallels of cross-racial patterns of INDIVIDUAL behaviors that allow one to become successful in this country. This aggressively-written compilation of shock phrases, memes, and fallacious race-based idealogies follows the typical idealogue paradigm of, “Since the world is a confusing place, first i will lay everything out that confuses you, confusing you even more (making you gullible). Then I will explain to you why you’re confused (the pitch, laid out to convince you that I know what I’m talking about). Then I will explain a set of answers to questions I either led you into, or forced out of you, spoon-feeding you a set of beliefs that will help UNconfuse you, and place you into my system of followers (you wont even realize it).” This is how systemic ideologies, like religious or political movements, are packaged and sold. While many lower and middle-class blacks, and their equally racist simp white counterparts may find an appeal to this type of writing and the mythological version of the US it presents (while all myth is based on select bits of reality, reality isnt myth), this should be read with a hyper-critical eye for falsehoods and skewings of reality, and as a set of more excuses designed to blame society for personal failure. The House of America does not exist, as it’s a material thing...fallible, tangible, susceptible to rot and the erosion of time. America is an idea, not a “house.” And THAT is why there are over 100 Constitutional Republics across the world who have modeled their Constitutions and systems of government after ours. Dont like it? You’re free to stay, but hey....why stay in a place you hate, or has discontented you so much? You are FREE to leave, and pursue your own happiness.
This is a brilliant description of the history and continued presence Caste system around the world, and most specifically in the United States. By framing today’s events in this history, the author has opened my eyes to its foundations, power and influence, and exquisitely explains the origins of our current discontent. Once seen, caste cannot be unseen; and once read, Caste cannot be forgotten.
An excellent read and amazing display of the uncomfortable truths about America.
To: nomoreOprah, Josh Shefty, sam53parv, qedkant, Donner5, Reneeplays, Jackgoober1, Frank, Seth V, Bauer304, and ReaderGirl121787 So, Seth, and his inability to concentrate for the long-term only made it to page 24. Seth, Seth, that’s when it REALLY gets good and kicks into action the underlying need for white supremacy that you feel...no wonder you quit, Hon. To the rest of you, to consider this book a waste of time or unworthy, is a sign of deep-seeded lack of curiosity and willingness to go deeper. Unfortunately, we are surrounded by the likes of you. Kudos, however, for having bought it in the first place. Too bad (or not, ey?) that it hit so close to home.
This book should be taught in US schools.
This book has done more for my own personal growth than any other I can remember. At times, it was difficult and prickly to honestly reflect and examine my own thoughts. I believe it to be an important part of my own evolution, allowing me to think deeply and not self-criticize for the past but more importantly become more self-aware in my future. This book has profoundly affected me. It’s message is desperately needed in our society right now.
Highly triggering, difficult, dense and sometimes debilitating; and essential to your psychological, emotional and physical health as we move forward these next 50 years. Do yourself, and all those babies not conceived of yet, a favor, and read this book carefully and intentionally.
I recommend this book for everyone, but especially for those of us who were educated in segregated schools or for whatever reason have not studied African American history.
Prolifically, liberating. Honest, educational, very necessary for the current climate. I’m grateful for this literary gift of important content. Thank You!
This book definitely opened my eyes to the caste system in America. I never looked at it as caste, but pure racism. Now, I understand the comparison and see why so many minorities continue to have to fight to get equality. I cannot put anyone in heaven or hell, but slavery and Jim Crow were pure evil and those that contributed to it will burn in hell.
This book should be used as a tool to lead conversations in every aspect of American life for those willing to take a serious look at US. The layout of truth was at times, difficult for me to digest, and I consider myself to be aware and knowledgeable of the history of this country and it’s impact on my community and the way that the country continues to keep a hush on its past and how it manifest today. It is required reading for those who seek to be educated.
Very eloquently written however very misleading interpretation of the facts. Like so many others it’s just one individuals interpretation of reality. How sad our country has become with the ever increasing amount of falsehoods masked as fact coming from every medium.
This book tells it like it is. The US of A was built on the backs of slaves and at the cost of many lives. Read this book and get comfortable with the uncomfortableness that our fellow Americans deal with. Then speak out and change. I’m doing it...join me please. Let’s change this horrible way of living.
This truly should be required reading for every American. Thank you for helping us see that to which we’d been blind!
رذعره هغ ر
Many other works on this subject use heavy academic language. This books relates a clear, rational history of how racial hierarchy—and other hierarchies undermine us all.
I only really made it to page 24 and stopped because I could see this was going to be full of manipulation and lies of the left just like in the media. Oprah is a billionaire because she lives in America and had hear free choice to become one but yet she has been brainwashed it seems to even put this in her book club wow! DONT WASTE YOUR TIME
This book needs to be taught in all schools across the country. It allows us to reframe our conception of what it means to be an American and what the history of our country — I.e. it was founded on the notions of a caste system and still operates as such today. It’s frankly horrifying, and if we don’t awaken to this reality and start talking about it in a widespread fashion, I fear we’re doomed to perpetuate this atrocity endlessly. So please, for the betterment of every single person living in America, read this book and develop a better understanding of who we are, how we got here, and how we must change.
CASTE is the most informative book on Race Relations in America that I have ever read. It illuminates how it was, is and should be.
Words can not explain how much this is a great and impactful read. I was as lost for words to sum this one up. The knowledge and facts were never ending
I really don't have adequate words to fully express how changed I am from the author's expression of such profound truths. This book should be read by every human being. It's transformative.
Thanks for sharing your personal stories and for giving us the context of race relations, caste, and the resulting racism that we’re experiencing today. Excellent reading.
Can she go back to giving away cars
Beautifully and powerfully written. All of us can learn something from this brilliant book. Trying to imagine how much better we can all be if we open our eyes to the realities Ms. Wilkerson describes and work together to help our nation live up to its founding intentions of “liberty and justice for all”.
This is absolute trash.
A must read for ALL of humanity!
By the time you get to chapter six of Caste, you start to see concepts like “trickle-down economics,” shift in your mind. They transition from debatable topics, to their true state. The light is fully shown on the vile and wholly disgusting nature of these ideologies. They are the tools for the perpetuation of a system of subjugation and dehumanization that America cannot seem to shake. Wilkerson has masterfully disassembled the structure of Caste in America and elsewhere. The chilling comparisons and contrasts emphasize the utter absurdity of arbitrary divisions between men. Caste systems are mechanisms for the wicked and greedy to coalesce power and wealth to themselves. And worse, it is a system that can completely shatter the free will of a human being. This book provides an exploded view of the internal machinery that powers human subjugation. It is mandatory reading for a world demanding social justice at louder and louder decibels. Fast forwarding to present day, this book reaffirms a belief I’ve had about minorities who seem to desperately seek the approval of the dominant caste by worshiping at the alter of money or denigrating their own as a means to social status & acceptance.
Thanks to this book I better understand some/many Trump supporters. It’s an insight that should embarrass anyone that claims to be American.
Highly recommended - a must read
Having dealt this past summer with the Confederate monument issue as a public servant and descendant of Confederates, I found Ms Wilkerson's premise both insightful and thought provoking. It reaffirmed my long-wrestled-with decision that the time was past due to deal with issues that are destructive to building a true community in the 21st Century. It was very readable and eye-opening.
This books provides a clear understanding of the basis of racism in America.
It is commendable that the author has focused on caste system in Hinduism. India is the bastion of caste apartheid ! It is not just the Brahmins that do this. There are other so called upper castes that use it to suppress everyone below them ! This is done through caste nepotism also known as caste networking. Where caste nepotism exists, merit dies ! You can see that in India. In the past 70 years Japan, China, Europe rose from the ashes of WW2 to accomplish great things for their people. India has been held back by caste nepotism ! This is sad.
This book was painful to read. So much of what she writes is showing the reader the cruelty, hatred, and evil perpetrated as a result of the caste system. I appreciate that she used this word to describe the system - and showed examples from the United States, India, and Nazi Germany. It shows us that this is a human tendency/evil - not just an American one. As such, rooting out this evil becomes a duty of our humanity, our call to honoring all humans as they are created, and to understanding how we are so much more alike than we are different. The book ends with a hopeful tone and a realistic challenge to the reader - I am a reader from the dominant caste - to set aside the “fake crown” and “see all of humanity.” I appreciate the way that she shows us that an end to the caste system can be done - as it was done in Germany with the end of the Nazi reign. The parallels that she draws between what happened there, and how they continue to heal from it - and our system of racial inequality in the United States, was so powerful. I enjoyed the way that she included some personal experiences in this well researched book. She helped us to see and hear the daily human impact of the caste system, which is where we meet it. I did not find this book to be a page turner. It is in no way pleasant or acceptable to witness the violence and harm that is a result of the caste system. I committed to reading it because I know how essential it is to understand deeply this injustice, so that I can commit more fully every day to setting it right. Thank you Ms. Wilkerson for this labor of justice and love. I pray that this book finds its way into the hands of millions so that we can engage together to dismantle the harmful system of caste in this country.
I read this with hopes of finding some better understanding as to where all of the hatred could have originated. However, there is no substantive data. In fact, there is no mention of the failing policies in place for nearly a decade with Obama, the Democrat machine that thrives on the misfortune of minorities, and the absolute dismissal of the importance and success of nuclear families. These families thrived until welfare was instituted. Please review the statistics on this and just how well minorities were doing prior to COVID-19 and BLM/ANTIFA. There has never been a more anti-Semitic movement in the U.S. until BLM. Shame on you for continuing to propagate this misinformation and for continuing to hate those who do not agree with your fascist ideas.
Not sure why there is so much toxic towards Hindus.. and especially Brahmins.. this is taken from people who hate certain section due to personal hate and just want to win elections use this.. why use Hindus for comparison with anti semitism of Germany .. I wish we had negative stars..
Racist. Poorly research. Undeserving of a Pulitzer Prize
Incredibly thought-provoking and insightful. Wilkerson’s thesis is so well articulated as to feel undeniable. Highly recommend.
Especially for those who think they know their history and are aware of the social injustices in our country.. this is a must read. So many learnings and moments where I had to stop, re-read, put the book down and absorb new historical context. Imperative for us all to actually learn the history of our nation in order to come through this moment truly better and with more undertanding of how we got here and what was created. so so great
I’m not sure where to start except to say we should all read this book! Books that make me have to look things up, grab a highlighter and say have I done this? These are books that should be given to everyone! Plus there is a reference section in the back!
I don't know how to begin reviewing this book short of stating that it is arguably the best and most important non-fiction book that I have read to date. It is informative, powerful, and inspiring. In her acknowledgments, Isabel Wilkerson credits Ibram X. Kendi and Bryan Stevenson for their scholarship and efforts as it pertains to racism in America. Bryan Stevenson's book "Just Mercy" was the first book that I ever read that truly opened my eyes to the inequities of the U.S. criminal justice system, and after reading Dr. Kendi's "How To Be An Antiracist" recently, I contend that it is the definitive text for defining American structural racism. What Wilkerson does in this book is take it one step further. Whereas "How to Be An Antiracist" answers the 'what' questions, "Caste" answers the 'why.' As opposed to just speaking to racism, she compares the structure of America to India's long-standing caste system - essentially a fixed hierarchy of all of its citizens - and how this country was built and maintained to keep African Americans on the bottom rung of that totem. To provide just one small example, she identifies how the Nazis used America's treatment of black people as a framework for their Nuremberg Laws of 1934 that were designed to institutionalize marginalization of Jews during the era of the Third Reich. Just think about that for a moment. She then later goes on to detail how Germany has responded to that piece of their history with shame, education, and memorialization. Meanwhile, we have a large portion of our population in the United States fighting to preserve statues and monuments that honor men that provided Hitler with his playbook. Moreover, Wilkerson's book is so much more than research and facts. Throughout the book, she weaves her message through historical examples, personal anecdotes, and cultural references. She writes of tales of lynchings during the Jim Crow era that are so heart-wrenching and visceral that they read like a photograph. She highlights systemic absurdities with an undeniable sense of logic. And she appeals to humanity in a way that makes me feel like this book should be required reading for obtaining a driver's license or I don't know...buying a Big Gulp. Since the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and all that has ensued, I have finally been educating myself. I have felt guilt. I have felt sad. I have started to identify and continue to work on my own shortcomings. I have felt empathy. I have donated to causes that are advocating for policy change. I have felt supportive. This was the book that I needed to feel outraged. It's time to do more.
The book is excellent. Wilkerson has masterfully woven a complex history of events into a clearly understood, data supported explanation of what got us to where we are right now. Her metaphors are so insightful and her evidence of how the USA has established a hierarchy that debases human beings for the color of their skin is so thought provoking and at times, shocking to realize. She is an incredible storyteller and this story is so powerful and life changing- it should be required reading for every American student.
I found this book thoroghly educational and engaging. After reading it, I have vowed never to go back to the person I was before reading it. It has encouraged a deeper empathy and understanding for the experience of people of color, and has been the best education on the role of race/caste in our country that I have ever had. The stories woven through the book were enlightening and thought provoking and served as a way to allow the reader to feel strong emotions and a personal connection to the content. The connection to Nazi Germany and India provided views that I had never before considered. I learned so much and am seeking ways to incorporate what I have learned into my day to day life. Highly recommend. My only complaint is that I wish she had spent more time on how we can move forward and heal as a nation.
Thoughtful and challenging.
Another Pulitzer please!! This is a brilliant, moving, spot on analysis of the truth our country must face. Our system has too long allowed the caste hierarchy to exist and it needs to stop. The humanity exhibited in the writing here is astounding and reading this should deepen any human being’s resolve to make change. Thank you for yer another superb and necessary book.
Powerful read that moved me from page one and took me on a journey that will forever change the way I view this experiment we call America.