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White Trash Audiobook

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America

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Publisher's Summary

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.

In White Trash, Nancy Isenberg upends assumptions about America's supposedly class-free society. Poor whites were central to the rise of the Republican Party in the early 19th 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. 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.

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.

©2016 Nancy Isenberg (P)2016 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"This is breathtaking social history and dazzling cultural analysis at its best." (Michael Eric Dyson, author of Holler If You Hear Me)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (341 )
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  •  
    jjd 08-18-16
    jjd 08-18-16
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    "Wowed by Truth"

    From the African American perspective, I was drawn to this book by it's mere title. By the end of the first chapter I found myself engrossed in the historical foundation of America's diabolical institutions of race and class.

    Quite astoundingly, I was amazed to discover that social Darwinism has not only been relegated to race although it has been known to me and my fellow humans of the Black race, that all are guilty of holding onto family and regional pride.

    What does seem to be inevitable in these days of "occupiers" and "All Lives Matter", Equality here and there is...nothing will change. What has been confirmed for me is that human nature is so deeply ingrained that what seems to be rigged, is rigged indeed.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
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    Michael P Spencer 08-22-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Eye-opening"

    Exploring the history of America's White underclass is helpful in understanding the political climate we find ourselves in today. As the attention of progressive politicians turn understandably to issues of racial justice, it's become easier to see why the members of America's disaffected White working-class, who feel increasingly forgotten, are willing to turn to demagogues who promise a return to an American middle-class Utopia that for the most part never really existed.

    The author painstakingly chronicles the trials and tribulations of, and attitudes towards America's White underclass; from our colonial beginnings, through to present-day. It is an eye-opening read, that helped me understand both my own family history and the attitudes of those I disagree with politically.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Camp Diva Detroit 08-21-16
    Camp Diva Detroit 08-21-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Illuminating"

    I was drawn to this book because I wanted to know why this group keep voting against their own interest. The author took me on this journey. Though I don't get the phenomenon, I understand it better .

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary J. Fortson Monroe, LA 08-18-16
    Mary J. Fortson Monroe, LA 08-18-16 Member Since 2013
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    "Great Book"
    What made the experience of listening to White Trash the most enjoyable?

    It is well researched with documented facts that support the reality of Class in America


    What was one of the most memorable moments of White Trash?

    How easily the European system of class was implemented into the New World and that poor white people don't realize they are victims of class the same as Black people and other minorities.


    Have you listened to any of Kirsten Potter’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes!


    Any additional comments?

    Should be required reading for all high school students as they prepare to go out into the world of American un-equality.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marja Yuille 08-21-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Challenge's the notion "American Exceptionalism""
    What did you love best about White Trash?

    The author's account of Classes in America is done in a chronological manner from Jamestown and early New England settlements up through early independence, the civil war, turn of the 20th century, WW1, WW2, LBJ, and today. The book was based on the writings of influential writers, forefathers, politicians, Hollywood and Presidents of the times. The topic challenged the very notion of American exceptionalism.


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Oakland, CA United States 07-23-16
    Amazon Customer Oakland, CA United States 07-23-16 Member Since 2016

    jeri@zocalo.net

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    "Makes a lot of conclusions without direct facts"

    Makes a lot of conclusions reading between the lines regarding facts using a historical perspective without an anthropological basis. Reads like a college thesis with certain tone of disdain for the people it's making conclusions regarding their personal drive for certain choices that aren't directly backed by facts. With an anthropological perspective to vouch the facts listed it might have succeeded in its goal. Also a gentler less judgmental tone might have helped bring the reader in instead of placing the reader on the defensive.

    19 of 29 people found this review helpful
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    lyndy marnell 07-20-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Rather than an exposé on "white trash", the main thing exposed is Isenberg's contempt for southerners"

    Isenberg's purported attempt to explore the origin, trajectory and existence of white trash seemed primarily a tool to perpetuate her unabashed disdain for the southern population. Although this skewed line of thinking made it difficult to finish this book, I did complete it because I hoped a more enlightened, less prejudiced perspective from the author would eventually emerge. Disappointingly, it did not!
    As an educated, highly-accomplished southerner with tremendous love and respect for my country, culture and fellow southerners, I was left with an intense desire to correct the many fallacies she portrayed. Though the south and its people are not without flaws, there was absolutely no mention of even one positive word about southerners in the hundreds of pages she used to so freely disparage them as she made her case for the varied causes of the socioeconomic misfortune of the white trash.
    I found it extremely disheartening that in modern times and with the benefit of advanced education, Isenberg displayed such ignorance about and contempt for the south. I am incredulous that she would squander an opportunity to extol real knowledge, instead relying largely on the outdated stereotypes that most educated members of society have moved beyond.
    Her bias and contempt are shockingly apparent though; so I suppose I should congratulate her on being an author capable of delivering a clear and concise message!

    36 of 56 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven R. Brook 07-19-16
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    "History or Diatribe"

    The focus is on the southern white, to the extent there is a focus. Perhaps the author believes that they are the only "trash" and Northerners are something else? It's hard to tell. Some of the great examples of "by their own bootstraps"are dismissed. Perhaps the author believes that the exceptions prove the rule. There are certainly some interesting historical facts, but they seem to be raised selectively in a liberal effort to prove the south deserved to lose the war. Yes, I stand when they play Dixie, when anyone is allowed to play Dixie anymore. But still, a little more balance would've gone a long way.

    19 of 30 people found this review helpful
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    SIMON ENGLEWOOD, CO, United States 06-28-16
    SIMON ENGLEWOOD, CO, United States 06-28-16 Member Since 2011
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    "Read by sanctimonious school marm"

    Lightweight history read by someone who reads every book like a sanctimonious school marm. Aggravating!

    19 of 37 people found this review helpful
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    Musical Origins 10-01-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Eye opening & well read"

    Thank you for this book and thank you for the enjoyable narration. What a nice, clear voice with wonderful diction! Super easy to listen to, though the content was very shocking and disappointing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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