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Caste; The Origins of Our Discontents by ISABEL WILKERSON

Review by Bruce Yernberg

It’s been about 55 years since I wrote my last book report.  In the beginning of my past 55 years, I read a number of books.  But in recent years my reading and perhaps my concentration have left me and I “cheat”.   I subscribe to a few newspapers and a great progressive magazine called The Nation. The Nation is my primary book review reading resource.  It is full of detailed book reviews.  And is published often. 

The book “Caste” was recommended to me by a friend during a discussion about politics and why people vote the way they do.  She told me her book club read the book and there were pros and cons about the book’s contents.  Last November I saw the book displayed in a store.  I bought it.  It is close to 500 pages and very heavily footnoted.  It’s also a deep read if you know what I mean.  I would put the book down for weeks sometimes.   I am proud to say I finished reading it only recently and am glad I did. 

The author has taken India, Germany and the United States and examined their racial histories.  Honestly, I didn’t like reading some of the passages.  Occasionally my eyes would leave the pages and wander the walls around me looking for guilt relief.  The book is a shameful indictment of many of our leaders and political organizations (including unions) that made America “great”.   The book’s author, Wilkerson is not a preacher.  The reader is left to decide his or her own opinion.

If you want to know how humans (mostly of light color), neither good nor bad, become insecure and susceptible to propaganda, then read this book.  If you want to know how humans need an identity to believe in …  read this book. If you want to know why humans need to feel chosen and important … read this book.

I usually pass a book I have read on to someone else.  I have kept only 3 other books:  All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten; The Grapes of Wrath and the Bible (“heavenly” foot-noted).  I now add to them the book, Caste. 

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