White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America faithfully delivers the promise of its subtitle, starting with the idea that the problem of the so-called “waste people” of Britain could be solved by shipping them to a new country where they would thrive. The author highlights when and how various derogatory epithets came to be — and I was surprised to see that trash, sadly, had such a long history. She also spends a lot of time analyzing various novels and movies about poor people, perhaps too much since, after all, fiction is fiction. And she exposes how political decisions have reinforced the status quo (the establishment of the suburbs through zoning laws being a prime example). She wisely stays away from specific recommendations, although they are quite clearly visible from the narrative.