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White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America
White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America | Nancy Isenberg
In her groundbreaking history of the class system in America, extending from colonial times to the present, Nancy Isenberg takes on our comforting myths about equality, uncovering the crucial legacy of the ever-present, always embarrassing if occasionally entertaining poor white trash The wretched and landless poor have existed from the time of the earliest British colonial settlement. They were alternately known as waste people, offals, rubbish, lazy lubbers, and crackers. By the 1850s, the downtrodden included so-called clay eaters and sandhillers, known for prematurely aged children distinguished by their yellowish skin, ragged clothing, and listless minds. Surveying political rhetoric and policy, popular literature and scientific theories over four hundred years, Isenberg upends assumptions about America s supposedly class-free society where liberty and hard work were meant to ensure real social mobility. Poor whites were central to the rise of the Republican Party in the early nineteenth century, and the Civil War itself was fought over class issues nearly as much as it was fought over slavery. Reconstruction pitted poor white trash against newly freed slaves, which factored in the rise of eugenics -a widely popular movement embraced by Theodore Roosevelt that targeted poor whites for sterilization. These poor were at the heart of New Deal reforms and LBJ s Great Society; they haunt us in reality TV shows like "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo "and "Duck Dynasty. "Marginalized as a class, white trash have always been at or near the center of major political debates over the character of the American identity. "" We acknowledge racial injustice as an ugly stain on our nation s history. With Isenberg s landmark book, we will have to face the truth about the enduring, malevolent nature of class as well."
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PickingBooks
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History doesn‘t repeat itself. Instead, it‘s patterns of human behavior that repeat, as James Holland, author of “Normandy ‘44: D-Day and the Battle for France,” pointed out on NPR and WBURs “Here & Now.” Understanding history means understanding people. But if that‘s not enough for you, and it shouldn‘t be, consider this: https://pickingbooks.com/blog/a-book-blog-inspired-by-history

48 likes1 stack add
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peacegypsy
Pickpick

A tale of America that explores, in well-researched prose, a thorough depiction of America. Thought-provoking.

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SW-T
Pickpick

Well researched, comprehensive look at class in America. Starts with the importation of class distinctions from the earliest settlers and continues up to today, including pop culture and reality TV.

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SW-T
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Roughly a third of the way through this one. Informative read about a complex topic. I can see why there are mixed feelings about it, and why it wouldn‘t appeal or be well received by others. However, I‘m enjoying it so far.

#historyfan #class

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LaurenReads
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Pickpick

A well researched and broad look at the history of class in America, from the colonists to the civil war, and on to current politics and pop culture. #nonfiction #audiobook

JamieArc Was this a dry read? I‘ve been wanting to read this for a while but am afraid it‘s going to go very slow. 1y
LaurenReads @JamieArc I listened to it, which always helps and I listened to it over a week. It‘s slow in parts, but I really liked it. 1y
89 likes3 stack adds2 comments
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ontheBL
Pickpick

A really well researched and in depth look at the unspoken class system in the United States from the colonial period through the present.

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Ericalambbrown
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Pickpick

I thought this book was wonderful. It is thought provoking and extremely well annotated. Full disclosure: These are my people. My family comes from some of the early populations the author describes. There are echoes of our past struggles as a nation that are, whether we like it or not, still mightily reverberating today. I recommend this book to anyone interested in our nation‘s history that occurred off the beaten path.

21 likes1 stack add
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parasolofdoom
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Mehso-so

Finished listening to this earlier today. It was... ok. The focus was mainly on poor white Southerners throughout American history (told mostly through lens of more affluent historical figures) rather than a cultural telling as the main title suggests. Felt like foreeeeeever to get through the colonial parts and then only the last couple chapters or so were more oriented toward what "white trash" means in modern vernacular.

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SaraBeagle
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Did some audio stitching yesterday while bread dough rose. This is for a friend, who is a big HP fan, who had a tough week last week.
And the book is interesting so far - seems like a good fit for a history buff.

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parasolofdoom
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On #letterI for #LitsyAtoZ -- actually didn't have tons of options on my tbr. Anyone have any thoughts on these? Leaning towards White Trash or Snow Child (and the latter would fit in my sff by women marathon)

tpixie Snow Child is a sweet Russian Fairy Tale retelling. Read that!!! 2y
callielafleur Snow Child is wonderful! 2y
parasolofdoom @tpixie @callielafleur thank you! I have a soft spot for retellings and fairy tale like fantasy ❤️. 2y
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rwmg I've been counting the Very Short Introductions for 'I' in the LT AlphaKIT Challenge 2y
parasolofdoom @rwmg I'm doing all author track this year which nsy bite me in the ass when I get to X 😂. 2y
rwmg @parasolofdoom I think you're stuck with Xenophon or Chinese authors. 2y
parasolofdoom @rwmg I have Malcolm X and Xinran on my tbr and I could always do a last name that at least contains an X. I was going to do just contains X for my title track last year but ended up devouring the Xenogenesis trilogy. 2y
tpixie Is there an Xavier? 2y
tpixie @parasolofdoom good luck!! 🍀 2y
parasolofdoom @tpixie Thank you ❤️ 2y
18 likes10 comments
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goodbyefrancie
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Pickpick

Just finished listening to this one on #overdrive. Interesting, but also sad and frustrating. Illustrates plainly that inequality isn't new, and points out the ways the divides are created, widened, and judged. Definitely a book I won't forget.

LaurenReads Time to move this up my tbr! 2y
Gezemice This is on my tbr, too. 2y
93 likes2 stack adds2 comments
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goodbyefrancie
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Long drive, may as well learn something. #historynerd #historybuff #nerdsrule #sadbuttrue #Overdrive

LitLogophile This one is great! 2y
nofutureparttwo I thought this book was excellent 2y
goodbyefrancie @LitLogophile @nofutureparttwo It's really good, but so hard to listen to. 2y
88 likes3 comments
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goodbyefrancie
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It's a beautiful day for an #audiowalk.

Daisey Same here! Best walk I've had in a while! 2y
84 likes1 comment
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Gina
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Mehso-so

What I loved about this book was all the interesting facts she weaves throughout. Unfortunately though it felt very surface level. It seems she tried to tackle too much at once. She also seems to repeat the same thing over and over. But if you are a history nerd like myself it is definitely worth your time.

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Gina
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Dewey what colorful language you employ at this most desperate of times!

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Gina
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Asiago bagel, jalapeno cream cheese, peanut butter cup
latte and a book at my fav historic log house coffee place, Coffeeville. It's a little slice of heaven in Jackson WI

AmyG That looks lovely. 2y
Gina @AmyG It is so dreamy. I love just people watching at this place. 2y
RebelReader When I saw peanut butter latte I had to look up where Jackson WI was....5 hours is too far. 😩 I‘m in MN! 2y
8 likes3 comments
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SuniLkGrl
Pickpick

Insightful read! I really appreciated the history & sociology lessons to better understand the inbred issues of classism & racism in the USA.

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everlocalwest
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Pickpick

And speaking of class issues...everyone that wanted more from Hillbilly Elegy should read this. Isenberg is an historian and this fantastically well researched book moves through the history of class in America that culminates in our current catastrophe. This is a chunkster but definitely worth the read.

4thhouseontheleft That‘s exactly why I bought this book, I was underwhelmed by Hillbilly Elegy. 2y
everlocalwest @4thhouseontheleft I think many people were. It was touted as 'the book to explain the working class' (or more accurately, the MAGA people) and while I liked Hillbilly Elegy, it definitely wasn't that. I think you'll get a lot more from this one. 2y
Ddzmini Well my grandparents came from Oklahoma so I was always told by them don‘t be ashamed of being white trash if you work hard be ashamed of being a bigot of others treat others as you want to be treated and no matter how much money someone else has it does make them a better person I‘ve found this to be the truth 2y
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Ddzmini Not saying that in a bad way 😝 2y
everlocalwest @Ddzmini we should all be proud of our heritage! This book is not meant to denigrate poor/working class people, if anything it highlights the myriad ways in which they have been used and abused by the ruling class. I have a working class background, and as a young professional that can be difficult to reconcile and people have tried to make me feel lesser for it (wrong schools etc). As you say, money doesn't matter, how you treat people matters. 2y
Ddzmini No my Grandfather had the chance to own half of Del Mar in California which is one of the upper class areas to own today but he was a bull rider and didn‘t want to be tied down there where plenty of opportunities he was just a cowboy and therefore didn‘t want land or possessions to hold him back but he had my grandma and 7 children so??? Go figure 😝😋 2y
40 likes4 stack adds6 comments
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Gina
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A quiet Saturday evening at home is my kind of heaven.

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Gina
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Oh my Mr. Thomas Jefferson, that is one big personal library you have there.

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Gina
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Three words I never thought I'd see in print...

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Gina
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I wonder if this folktale helped to keep kids on the proper path... hehehehehe

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Gina
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It's that special time of night to have me time.

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Gina
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I ♡ when authors tell it with no filter. Just a stright arrow line of words.

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Gina
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Look what I just learned. Hummmmm...

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Gina
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You had me at White Trash! Ooooooo this is going to be fun.

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Hooked_on_books
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Bailedbailed

Why, Nancy, why? Why did you make this book so dry! Arg! I‘m bailing at about the same point on audio as I did in print. It reminds me of a high school history text, which is not a good association for me and I love nonfiction, so this is frustrating. I‘m glad so many people enjoyed this one, but I‘m done for good now. 🤷🏼‍♀️

Godmotherx5 My brother did the same thing. Hard to read books like that if they aren‘t assigned reading. 2y
Reviewsbylola I‘m super picky about NF. I‘ll be skipping this one. 2y
54 likes2 comments
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Somasis
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Pickpick

Wake up an hour early unable to sleep? Sounds like reading time to me!

This book was super enjoyable and takes a close look at an important facet of American life. It's the kind of read that has you learning interesting facts, which you then you as conversation starters with everyone you talk to for several days afterward.

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Hooked_on_books
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Ok, I bailed on this one in print a while back, so I‘m going to try it again on audio. Wish me luck!

Kristelh Wishing you luck 2y
RebelReader I bailed on this one too! 🙁 2y
Zelma Will be curious how the audio is. This seems like just the kind of audiobook I enjoy. 2y
51 likes1 stack add3 comments
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Somasis
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I'm not sure if this is a #view, but as I'm reading on the couch this morning I have a dog curled up by my feet, and another snoring away on the ottoman by my head. It's pretty impossible not to look at her, she's so stinking cute. Very distracting. #seasonsreadings2017 @RealLifeReading

BookMaven407 💕🐶 2y
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Somasis
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Cold temperatures have driven me to bed early tonight, might as well get in some light reading while I try to warm up 😊 #currentread

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BriKie
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Mehso-so

White Trash has lots of good information about a topic I‘m interested in but it‘s written as a dry, academic, fact-dump that dulled my enjoyment of reading it.

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Zoe_reads_books
Bailedbailed

DNF, unfortunately. This just wasn‘t what I expected. I found myself totally spacing out for long parts of the audiobook and it didn‘t really feel compelled to continue with this book.

UrsulaMonarch If it hadn't been a book club selection for me, I don't know if I would have finished- even though I did like some parts a lot! 2y
16 likes1 comment
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Soubhiville
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Bailedbailed

I'm bailing on this for now. Non fiction is pretty hit or miss for me, and I can't focus on this one. I'm interested in the subject, so might come back to it at a point when my mind is a bit more settled.

Reviewsbylola I'm the same way about non fic! 2y
Hooked_on_books I bailed on this one, too, though I love nonfiction. I'm planning to try it again in a bit on audio to see if it keeps me engaged this time. 2y
59 likes2 comments
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LikelyLibrarian
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"When you turn and election into a three-ring circus, there's always a chance that the dancing bear will win."

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ptkpepe98
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Fascinating reading, and I'm not even 100 pages in! I always have said no one is disposable, with the exception perhaps of heinous types like Manson, Bundy, etc. They should be locked away to keep us safe.

I knew that Britain colonized using children, women, and convicts. People without standing. I didn't know the half of it, though, because, of course, who would teach something so horrible, whether true or not?

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LikelyLibrarian
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"Tugwell, however, refused to engage in a theatrical debate over what it meant to be a 'man of the people.' America already had a long history of politicians pretending to identify with the earnest plowman. In the South, it was more than a past time – it was everything."

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LikelyLibrarian
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"'Can a nation call itself free if it finds itself periodically on the verge of bankruptcy and starvation [despite] the fact that it possesses all the materials of the good life?' He meant that freedom was compromised when a nation allow the majority of the people to suffer devastating poverty."

2 likes1 comment
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LikelyLibrarian
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😫

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QuintusMarcus
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Pickpick

Stunning book - the author traces the history of "white trash" from colonial origins to modern icons. I had no idea there was such a history, and that the export of undesirables to America was a deliberate and carefully theorized strategy. The offscourings, the human waste of England, were meant to fertilize the rich new land. Brilliant history.

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Beholderess
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Just started listening to the #audiobook Thing is, the reader's super-educated voice and slightly condescending cadence (as if explaining things to a small child) makes it unintentionally amusing #nonfiction #socialjustice

JaimeDawn If you enjoy paranormal at all, this narrator does a series called Immortal Guardians and she's wonderful. 2y
9 likes1 comment
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JaimeDawn
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Well. Andrew Jackson was a seriously horrible human being.

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LikelyLibrarian
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Sound familiar?

JaimeDawn Very 2y
5 likes1 comment
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LikelyLibrarian
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I like Isenberg's discussion of the power of myth making--how the stories we tell ourselves about our past shape the way we feel about ourselves and others in the present.

Kmmsellers I've been wanting to read this one. Now, I think I should get to it sooner rather than later. 2y
6 likes1 comment
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LibrarianRenee
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So, so good. It reveals that 'white trash' have always existed in America. That class is always an issue. That the American dream is just that, a dream.

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jdtchicago

In 1790, “squatter” appeared in a Pennsylvania newspaper, but written as “squatlers,” describing men who inhabited the western borderlands of that state, along the Susquehanna River. They were men who “sit down on river bottoms,” pretend to have titles, and chase off anyone who dares to usurp their claims.

Gezemice This looks like an interesting and timely read. 2y
22 likes3 stack adds1 comment
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jdtchicago

Many people----women especially----remain trapped in the poverty into which they were born. The successful person from this background is the exception. The American dream is a double-edged sword in that those who are able to carve out their own destiny are also hard-pressed not to condemn those who get struck between the cracks.

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jdtchicago

But today‘s trailer trash are merely yesterday‘s vagrants on wheels, an updated version of Okies in jalopies and Florida crackers in their carts. They are renamed often, but they do not disappear.

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jdtchicago
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Poor whites are still taught to hate—but not to hate those who are keeping them in line. Lyndon Johnson knew this when he quipped, “If you can convince the lowest white man he‘s better than the best colored man, he won‘t notice you‘re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he‘ll empty his pockets for you.

Gezemice Oh god, this is so true. That's how poor people end up thinking that a billionaire understands and represents them. 2y
SassenachTheBookWizard How true... 2y
glo1 Wow, does this resonate... 2y
46 likes2 stack adds4 comments
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jdtchicago

And so the great American saga, as taught, excludes the very pertinent fact that after the 1630s, less than half came to Massachusetts for religious reasons.