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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power - which groups have it and which do not.

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 civilisations 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.

©2020 Isabel Wilkerson (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Caste

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‘Introduction to racism in America’

This is not for Indians (I am one) who understand caste. This is for white Americans and Europeans who wants primary to understand the dark underbelly of USA

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Brilliant insight!

Explains current events in the world (not just USA) better than just Class and Race

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great story line

examples given throughout the book were eye opener
i was really unknown area of caste history of the world

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One of those books which happens once in lifetime

Loved it ...... answered so many questions which I was not aware I even had ..... changed my perspective on life itself...... If I had my way I would make it mandatory reading for everyone

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Wonderful experience !

This is my first audible book. Loved listening to the book. Halfway through listening, decided that 'this is a good book and should be preserved', ordered a printed version of the book too..If only all educated humans would read/listen to this book and practice " radical empathy " that Isabel Wilkerson suggests , this world could become a much better place to live in.

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  • Love's Reading
  • 09-01-21

Truly “the lies that divide us”

I would recommend this book for everyone. The oppressed and the not oppressed. We can not change anything about the past but we can change the present and the future. As a black South African reading this book I found it helped shine the light on some reprogramming I may need to do in how I see myself and my abilities. But it also gave me insight on why the constitution says I’m free and yet do not feel free most times. It’s given me the courage to work out my freedom, reprogram my mind with intentionality. It is also helping me understand why some people still behave a particular way. Not to excuse the behavior but to understand it will be a process to unlearn.

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  • EssieE
  • 08-01-21

A Serious Study of Race

Caste by Isabel Wilkersin is a study of race, its social, economic, and political manifestations. Unlike "The Warmth of Other Suns" which looks at migration within the United States, "Caste" draws a lot of references from the international experience. I would recommend the book for University level studies, but it does not make for at home listening for relaxation. Race is an extremely vexing subject; it is upsetting, disturbing, and often opens lots of wounds.

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  • Sridhar
  • 20-02-21

Excellent analysis through the prism of Caste

Isabel Wilkerson's analysis of divisions within America through the prism of Caste is thought-provoking. She methodically details the eight pillars of caste and how the dominant caste uses them to subjugate the subordinate one. As an Indian, I can relate to the comparisons made to the Caste system that has kept Dalits as subordinate and the system of treating blacks as less than human in the USA. This is a must-read for everyone who cares about humanity in the 21st century.

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  • N. Cottle
  • 31-12-20

Super powerful book that opened my eyes

Loved it. It helped reframe things and gave me a chance to look at my NZ context through a different lens.

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  • Emily
  • 22-11-20

Kind words from a Powerful Book

Isabel masterfully took me through an American History class. It is costly when a majority of Americans do not embrace their country's true past for the last 400 years that has seen the black minority degraded in all spheres of their lives. It's sad to see that the country is still struggling to agree to work on this vice. If America successfully ends Caste. I think you will become unstoppable because all people from all creeds, shape and color will truly be free to become all they were created to be.

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  • Catalin
  • 13-11-20

Superb

I just finished listening this beautiful manifesto for a better world. Superbly written and excellently documented, this book must be read by anyone wishing to become a better human.

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  • gillian wright
  • 19-10-20

An important and necessary education

Every human being should read this book. The education it afforded me was heartbreaking and entirely necessary. As an Irish woman who had spent a few years in America, I could see and feel the inequality but I did not understand the complexity and depths of it. A change is well over due, maybe this book will be a catalyst.

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  • Sharlene Phillips
  • 14-10-20

Life changing

I loved every single peace of this book, its written in such a realistic yet assertive connotation. As a black female ftom central america I acknowledge the struggle my brothers ans sisters battle and I pray to God that we will find the way to overcome for our future generations.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 15-09-20

wow wow wow!

This book has helped me make sense of lingering stubborn racist sentiments in Post Apartheid South Africa , and constant sense of exclusion the native black people in this country still wrestle with. This book is highly recommended to the racist and excluded- all the same! Therein, lies the cause and cure. Selah...

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  • Kahlah
  • 14-09-20

Exquisite ... a must read book for all of humanity

Extremely powerful book. I learnt so much... it’s thought provoking and the many stories which Isabel Wilkerson uses are powerful and memorable.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 27-08-20

Brilliant book that should be required reading

Being of Indian origin I am only too aware of Caste and the pernicious nature thereof. It was revelatory to have caste applied to the American condition. I was engrossed from beginning to end. Be prepared to be put through a gamut of emotions, ranging from aching sadness to visceral rage at the treatment of our African American brothers and sisters at the hands of the dominant caste (white people). Such treatment spans slavery, Jim Crow through to the present day. I sincerely hope that this book is made required reading in schools, colleges and Universities in the US. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. A masterpiece. Thank you Isabel Wilkerson for your tour de force. In Solidarity.

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  • Soulful j
  • 05-10-20

A must read.

A must read for all who want to give humanity its best chance.

Get over yourself and get into the book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 29-09-20

Essential to one's education

The grim skeleton of the structural racism that haunts and frames modern American life is laid bare here. This book presents clearly the effect of the human impulse to create hierarchy and then to raise up that creation to quasi-religious status so that it may not be questioned or properly seen, understood and demolished. That American society should be held in a self-reinforcing vicious cycle that blinkers 'good people' to the cause of the malaise in their country, and simultaneously allows a moneyed elite to profiteer from the discord sown and cultivated between groups even as ALL are being sold an unattainable, unsustainable 'American Dream' is saddening beyond words. Wanting to persist with a child's faith in the fairytale of one's nation's history is a sign of immaturity: it's time to stop patronising so many people by not challenging this fantasy. It is my sincere hope that my fellow human beings on the far side of the Atlantic can rise to the hyperbole of the marketing of the USA as the 'land of the free'. Reading this book may just help some citizens to discover the 'matrix' and begin to find a way out of it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jeannette Adames
  • 11-09-20

Enlightening read about why we are where we are.

This is an essential read. At times I gasped for air to absorb the extent to the systematic dehumanization of African American people. And, yet as the moral scaffolding of our nation chips away, the book shines a light at how factors interact to create the social conditions in which the souls of those who strive for superiority degrade to an unthinkable pit of the human condition. This book will make you reflect on how your interactions, verbal and nonverbal, speak to who you are and aspire for the world to be.

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  • ian
  • 09-09-20

a must read,

a must read, then share. vital in these unsettling times of caste and class stratification

1 person found this helpful

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  • anna
  • 24-02-21

A truly enlightening piece

Phenomenal, learned so much about African American history and the basis for race relations in the US

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  • Miss T Agbelusi
  • 07-02-21

Couldn’t have said it better

She captured so many conversations and experiences that are too familiar and relayed them so relatably that if you don’t get it, it is because you don’t want to. I appreciate how well researched and detailed the expositions are. Books that are hyped up usually disappoint but this lived up to the hype. It’s my new recommendation fir those people who want me to explain what I have no energy for.

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  • Susan H
  • 07-02-21

Required reading regardless of ethnicity or nationality

I learned so much from this book despite many decades studying political and social sciences and around 30 visits to India since the mid 1990s.
The beginning felt a bit clunky, with a heavy and somewhat tedious emphasis on US politics, and oft-repeated assertions that the USA is the world’s oldest democracy (which will come as a surprise to the Greeks). But beyond that it becomes less trite and more profound by the chapter, exposing the underlying problems of all societies through the more obvious examples of American, Indian and Nazi German caste systems. A must-read for any informed discussion of social issues today.

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  • Melanie Lowndes
  • 26-01-21

An Eye-opening Masterpiece

Isabel interweaves research, history, contemporary events, comparisons of USA with 3rd Reich and India, others research and writing and her own experiences. She produces a compelling narrative that names what is happening almost to the readers relief - to finally have clarity on what so-called "racism" actually is.

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  • Michael Henry
  • 25-01-21

Really moving....

Had to read it with intervals though as it became, almost too moving. Excellent read.

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  • Anu
  • 24-08-20

Disappointed by the clumsy presentation.

I was expecting a more scholarly presentation but I was disappointed to encounter practically no discussion of political economics or serious analysis of history or sociology. Instead one is greeted with essentially one big long opinion piece illustrated with emotive anecdotes instead of data with historical context. Wilkerson's similar brevity in the scholarly department is even more painfully obvious in her treatment of Nazism and (especially) Hinduism. I would have given an extra 2 stars for performance, but the narrator's slipping into a nasty sounding voice (for the purpose of caricaturing various quotations) just adds an irritating element.

Trying to establish historical categorical trans-cultural similarities (ie, " 8 pillars of caste") requires serious (ie. "sociological") investigation of both history and culture. One cannot go in merely with good intentions and a bevy of anecdotes and expect to come out the other side with something convincing or meaninful. I doubt that anyone already remotely familiar with the malevolent side of American history will learn anything from this book. In other words, our currently fractured societies will continue to fracture.

Perhaps the book would be better if she just focused on her opinions and the anecdotes from American history. However even then, that would only work if she could paint forward some progressive path (or opinion) to a more egalitarian society .... which, again, is not something offered with this book.

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  • Michelle
  • 19-09-20

A must read for every person

This book is a marvel. Wonderfully written, well researched and extraordinarily powerful. Many of the chapters I felt an overwhelm of emotions. Anger, sadness, disgust, shame, horror and disbelief. I exclaims out loud many times “wtf”. It’s hard to listen to the behaviour being discussed and know that it has happened, and still happens, in a country touted as been “great”. Change is needed now. If these atrocities were in any other country the UN would be speaking out. It was a personal journey for me in understanding the privilege I was born into. At one point in the book I wanted to put it down and walk away from the emotional pain. Then I realised that is the definition of white privilege that I can walk away when others cannot. So I stayed in it and felt the pain. Boy. Read this book. That’s all I can say. Read the book.

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  • Tara
  • 02-02-21

Essential

This must be listened to and appreciated. So well put together and read. I was drawn to every word and conscious of the weight of each word.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 18-01-21

enlightenment

OUTSTANDING, my blinkers have been removed. what a great world we would have without caste, aliens might come and visit us for dinner and days out in their space ships, no chance of that currently, stupid monkeys.

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  • Kellie Davis
  • 08-11-20

Shocker

Racist, delusional. One eyed, sad propaganda
Beautifully read
Someone who was actually up on the electoral college fairness of the system would have made this book more credible

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  • Anthony Cave
  • 02-11-20

Spurious correlations and false facts galore

I came in to this book looking to hear from alternative world view and to broaden my horizons and thinking.
The opening salvo from this book was dripping with extreme emotive bias with very little factual support. Including news articles that were debunked, correlated completely unrelated events with the 2016 presidential election and completely ignored the greater socio political forces occurring around the election.
I came to have my biases challenged, instead I got 'orange man bad' the book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 25-10-20

Caste in society

Amazing audiobook which will shock the listener and provide an understanding of the meaning of caste
Highly recommended

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  • Mary
  • 29-09-20

Very thought provoking

I love Isabels narration this book is so thought provoking, I went through so many emotions listening to this audiobook. Could not stop listening. Definitely one of the best books Ive listened to this year!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 23-09-20

An essential read.

The world, not just America, desperately needs this book. It should be taught in schools everywhere as essential reading. Profoundly wise. Brilliantly narrated.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 31-08-20

Magnanimous !! Hard HITTING !! REAL

The most amazing book I've read this year. Isobel is a legend and opens ones eyes to the bigotry the world is made of. Along with pointing out the fractions in our society she also points to a way forward out and towards a more inclusive future. 5 stars all the way.