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White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America (2016)

por Nancy Isenberg

Outros autores: Ver a secção outros autores.

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1,685657,987 (3.59)88
"A history of the class system in America from the colonial era to the present illuminates the crucial legacy of the underprivileged white demographic, citing the pivotal contributions of lower-class white workers in wartime, social policy, and the rise of the Republican Party,"--NoveList.
Adicionado recentemente porrickrod713, zomgpwnbbq, biblioteca privada, treehouse812, Frederic_Schneider, respinola, LeBleuUn, Dsimmons87, ToddWaggoner
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Mythbuster

We Americans hold many beliefs about our nation, most of which fall under the rubric of American Exceptionalism. Prime among these are that we live in a classless society, where equality reigns supreme, where everybody shares the same opportunity to strike it rich, where even if our relations with others aren’t perfect we take pride in at least trying. So, when a historian comes along to reveal the very foundations of these shared ideas as myth by baring the harsher realities of American life, resistance, objection, and even vilification should not surprise anybody.

Isenberg’s new cultural history stands out because she details how class transported over on the boats that delivered the first colonists to American shores, how it rooted firmly in American soil both in northern and southern colonies from the beginning, how it influenced the Founding Fathers and then subsequent generations, and how it morphed in the 19th and 20th centuries into what we have still today. We like to think that we left the aristocracies and class divisions of the Old World behind us, that our revolution was more about freedom for all than freedom for a few well-off, but, of course, when we dispel the fog of myth, we know that isn’t true.

Some highlights include the Founding Fathers’ views, among them Franklin and Jefferson, and how the limitless West served to siphon off what were known as waste people and the early ideas of breeding better people (the early version of Eugenics that formed as an idea in the 19th century and crystallized in early 20th-century America, well covered by Isenberg). If you have ever puzzled over why a poor and pretty much disenfranchised poor white population would rally to the cause of a minority pack of Southern land- and slaveholders, then you’ll find Isenberg’s dredging up of the Confederate use of class warfare interesting and satisfying. Too, directly related to this is the North’s psychological warfare that exploited class divisions in the South.

The roots and early permutations of class take up a bit more than half of the text and the balance moves through the 20th-century to current times, covering the earlier mentioned Eugenics movement, the New Deal, segregation, the War on Poverty, and finally exploitation of white trash as an entertainment phenomenon, not so much a legitimizing makeover but more a way for many to sneer and feel superior. In that list of topics, the New Deal and the War on Poverty, while imperfect, demonstrate that we can to some extent achieve what we claim to represent and aspire to, that is, a bit more leveling of opportunity and class.

Isenberg’s Introduction explains what you’ll find in the text and her Epilogue presents her conclusions. From the both sections, there are theses, which as many will accept as truth as will find them abhorrent. Nonetheless, they forewarn you about what to expect:

Introduction: “At all times, white trash remind us of one of the American nation’s uncomfortable truths: the poor are always with us. A preoccupation with penalizing poor whites reveals an uneasy tension between what Americans are taught to think the country promises—the dream of upward mobility—and the less appealing truth that class barriers almost invariably make that dream unobtainable. Of course, the intersection of race and class remains an undeniable part of the overall story.”

Epilogue: “Without a visible hand, markets did not at any time, and do not now, magically pave the way for the most talented to be rewarded; the well connected were and are preferentially treated.” (You might want to read that again against what we experienced in 2008 and what we may face in the coming years.)

The work reflects a great deal of scholarship, especially primary, as a reading of the footnotes demonstrate, though a bibliography would be appreciated. Contains a good index that makes looking up specific historical persons, of whom there are many, easy. ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
Mythbuster

We Americans hold many beliefs about our nation, most of which fall under the rubric of American Exceptionalism. Prime among these are that we live in a classless society, where equality reigns supreme, where everybody shares the same opportunity to strike it rich, where even if our relations with others aren’t perfect we take pride in at least trying. So, when a historian comes along to reveal the very foundations of these shared ideas as myth by baring the harsher realities of American life, resistance, objection, and even vilification should not surprise anybody.

Isenberg’s new cultural history stands out because she details how class transported over on the boats that delivered the first colonists to American shores, how it rooted firmly in American soil both in northern and southern colonies from the beginning, how it influenced the Founding Fathers and then subsequent generations, and how it morphed in the 19th and 20th centuries into what we have still today. We like to think that we left the aristocracies and class divisions of the Old World behind us, that our revolution was more about freedom for all than freedom for a few well-off, but, of course, when we dispel the fog of myth, we know that isn’t true.

Some highlights include the Founding Fathers’ views, among them Franklin and Jefferson, and how the limitless West served to siphon off what were known as waste people and the early ideas of breeding better people (the early version of Eugenics that formed as an idea in the 19th century and crystallized in early 20th-century America, well covered by Isenberg). If you have ever puzzled over why a poor and pretty much disenfranchised poor white population would rally to the cause of a minority pack of Southern land- and slaveholders, then you’ll find Isenberg’s dredging up of the Confederate use of class warfare interesting and satisfying. Too, directly related to this is the North’s psychological warfare that exploited class divisions in the South.

The roots and early permutations of class take up a bit more than half of the text and the balance moves through the 20th-century to current times, covering the earlier mentioned Eugenics movement, the New Deal, segregation, the War on Poverty, and finally exploitation of white trash as an entertainment phenomenon, not so much a legitimizing makeover but more a way for many to sneer and feel superior. In that list of topics, the New Deal and the War on Poverty, while imperfect, demonstrate that we can to some extent achieve what we claim to represent and aspire to, that is, a bit more leveling of opportunity and class.

Isenberg’s Introduction explains what you’ll find in the text and her Epilogue presents her conclusions. From the both sections, there are theses, which as many will accept as truth as will find them abhorrent. Nonetheless, they forewarn you about what to expect:

Introduction: “At all times, white trash remind us of one of the American nation’s uncomfortable truths: the poor are always with us. A preoccupation with penalizing poor whites reveals an uneasy tension between what Americans are taught to think the country promises—the dream of upward mobility—and the less appealing truth that class barriers almost invariably make that dream unobtainable. Of course, the intersection of race and class remains an undeniable part of the overall story.”

Epilogue: “Without a visible hand, markets did not at any time, and do not now, magically pave the way for the most talented to be rewarded; the well connected were and are preferentially treated.” (You might want to read that again against what we experienced in 2008 and what we may face in the coming years.)

The work reflects a great deal of scholarship, especially primary, as a reading of the footnotes demonstrate, though a bibliography would be appreciated. Contains a good index that makes looking up specific historical persons, of whom there are many, easy. ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
An incredibly fascinating angle on American history. I think the tie between class and racism is a necessary inquiry that more people should make. The tone is odd, doesn't seem to offer solutions, nor does it seem to be neutral (seems to be bitterly sarcastic towards the "white trash," actually).

It also suffers from a lack of personal narrative pre-70s. Sure it brings in stories of entertainers, but very few normal people who would fit the stereotype. It particularly struggles pre-1930 but the author couldn't really be completely at fault. A lack of literacy permeates the stereotype and, if it is valid, they would leave no records behind.*


* See also [b:The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America|25723233|The Conservative Heart How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America|Arthur C. Brooks|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1434244172s/25723233.jpg|45558808] and its statements on the effect of poverty. ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
I wasn't entirely sure what the author was trying to do with this book but she did a great job of summing things up in the Epilogue and I understood her point much better. There is a lot of information in this book and it can be a bit overwhelming but in the end I feel like I did learn some important things about class in America. There is one small technical quibble that I wish ebook authors and publishers would fix, the footnotes in this book either were purely citation notes (which I did not need to read as I was reading the book) or contained additional text that expanded on the point made in the main text. The latter I definitely wanted to read. Reading on the Kindle app for my iPad while on the subway it is difficult to touch the screen to get to footnotes as I'm often using 1 hand to hold on. If I knew all the footnotes were just citations I would have skipped them, but enough had additional material that I had to go to each one of them. It made for some interesting rides. ( )
  MarkMad | Jul 14, 2021 |
I did not, could not finish this book. It was well researched and interesting but it read more like a long college essay. ( )
  Tosta | Jul 5, 2021 |
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Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Nancy Isenbergautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculated
Belanger, FrancescaDesignerautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Miceli, JayaDesigner da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Potter, KirstenNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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Preface
One of the most memorable films of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), a classic portrait of the legacy of slavery and racial segregation in the South.
Introduction
We know what class is.
In the minds of literate English men and women, as colonization began in the 1500s, North America was an uncertain world inhabited by monstrous creatures, a blank territory skirted by mountains of gold.
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"A history of the class system in America from the colonial era to the present illuminates the crucial legacy of the underprivileged white demographic, citing the pivotal contributions of lower-class white workers in wartime, social policy, and the rise of the Republican Party,"--NoveList.

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