** White Trash by Nancy Isenberg

The United States often thinks of itself as a classless society, but of course that’s a delusion, as the author of White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America demonstrates, starting with the first immigrants who promptly created local versions of aristocracy — and very familiar patterns of contempt and exclusion of the poor, in particular through nonexistent or substandard education.  Along the way she introduces many elitists, including Harriett Beecher Stowe, who wrote rather disturbing anti-poor literature, and the eugenists who sterilized Carrie Buck, and (a few) others who introduced more inclusive politics. Class may not be as explosive a topic as race, but perhaps it should be.

 

 

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