White Trash – The 400-Year untold history of class in America


Format: Dead Trees

Source: Public Library

Rating: 4.25

This book was a slow read for me.  There were sections that I had to slow down and really process what was being conveyed.  Isenberg did her homework on this book and there are probably close to 200pages of notes for the book.

This book explores America’s lower white class.  From the early days when America was still colony’s up until the book was published.  Back when Georgia was first a colony they had banned slavery.  Not because they though the practice was bad or because they cared for the lives of the Africans that were being brought over.  They wanted their poor whites to be working.  North Carolina as a colony was called among the laziest.  Their poor whites sat around and didn’t care to work. This book gives great insight into the plight of the poor white man through the years.  From post civil war, when the war-ravaged south when poor whites struggled even more to make ends meet and find work.  Through the  1900’s studies were done to prove that poor white bread degenerates.

Isenberg goes to great lengths to point out how every generation has had struggle with class, and from the 50’s on with TV entertaining lots of shows have been staring poor white trash.  Even shows of late such as Duck Dynasty or Honey Boo Boo we are still enamored with their culture.

Some things that really stuck with me from the book:

When the white man came to America he assumed the Indians did not own the land because they had not built up cities in the same way they would have.

Lyndon Johnson was quoted to have said “If you can convince the lowest white man that he is better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you picking his pocket.  Hell give him somebody to look down on and he will empty his pockets for you.”

In 2009 the top 1% paid 5.2 percent of their income to taxes, while the poorest 20% paid 10.9 percent.




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