Beyond race or class, our lives are defined by a powerful, unspoken system of divisions. In Caste, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson gives an astounding portrait of this hidden phenomenon. Linking America, India and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson reveals how our world has been shaped by caste – and how its rigid, arbitrary hierarchies still divide us today.
With clear-sighted rigour, Wilkerson unearths the eight pillars that connect caste systems across civilizations, and demonstrates how our own era of intensifying conflict and upheaval has arisen as a consequence of caste. Weaving in stories of real people, she shows how its insidious undertow emerges every day; she documents its surprising health costs; and she explores its effects on culture and politics. Finally, Wilkerson points forward to the ways we can – and must – move beyond its artificial divisions, towards our common humanity.
Beautifully written and deeply original, Caste is an eye-opening examination of what lies beneath the surface of ordinary lives. No one can afford to ignore the moral clarity of its insights, or its urgent call for a freer, fairer world.
Wilkerson won the Pulitzer Prize for her work as Chicago Bureau Chief of The New York Times in 1994, making her the first black woman in the history of American journalism to win a Pulitzer and the first African-American to win for individual reporting. In 2016, President Barack Obama awarded her the National Humanities Medal for ‘championing the stories of an unsung history.’ She has taught at Princeton, Emory, and Boston Universities and has lectured at more than two hundred other colleges and universities across the United States and in Europe and Asia.
Isabel Wilkerson is the author of the acclaimed bestsellers The Warmth of Other Suns and Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. Her debut work won multiple awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. Cited as a best book of the year by thirty news organizations, Warmth was named to Time’s list of the Ten Best Books of the Decade, and The New York Times’s list of the Best Nonfiction of All Time. Her second book, Caste, was a No.1 bestseller and heralded in The New York Times as ‘an instant American Classic.’ It appeared on forty best of the year lists, more than any other work of nonfiction, and was honored by Time as the No.1 nonfiction book of the year.