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  • Published: 4 August 2020
  • ISBN: 9780141995472
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 496


The International Bestseller

A startling and transformative account of how we are all tied up in a caste system, from NYT-bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson

'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 civilizations, 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.

  • Published: 4 August 2020
  • ISBN: 9780141995472
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 496

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Praise for Caste

Magnificent. Profound. Eye-opening. Sobering. Hopeful.

Oprah Winfrey

Vital, brilliant and necessary

Kae Tempest

Haunting yet strangely consoling, in a world defined by its divides, Caste connects. It reveals the 'unseen skeleton' embedded in heinous acts of power but, in evocative prose that is full of poise, reminds us what's possible when people come together. I closed the book feeling enlightened and energised, ready to roll up my sleeves and get on with the good work.

Johny Pitts

A transformative new framework through which to understand identity and injustice.

Justin Worland, TIME

It should be at the top of every American's reading list.

Chicago Tribune

This enthralling exposé deserves a wide and impassioned readership

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Destined to become a classic ... urgent, essential reading for all.

Library Journal (starred review)

This is a brilliant book

Booklist (starred review)

Extraordinary ... an instant American classic and almost certainly the keynote nonfiction book of the American century thus far ... It's a book that changes the weather inside a reader.

Dwight Garner, The New York Times

Important and timely ... If repudiation of past assumptions is the first step towards healing, Wilkerson's book offers a powerful frame for this. It is essential reading for anybody who feels angry, guilty or threatened by the tangled issue of "race" in America today.

Gillian Tett, Financial Times

An expansive interrogation of racism, institutionalised inequality and injustice ... This is an American reckoning and so it should be. Wilkerson activates history in her pages, bringing all its horror and possibility to light. It is a painfully resonant book and could not have come at a more urgent time.

Fatima Bhutto, Guardian

Propulsive ... Should be required reading for generations to come.

Joshunda Sanders, Boston Globe

Searching, gorgeously crafted... Caste is a luminous read, bearing its own torch of righteous wrath in a diamond-hard prose that will be admired and studied by future generations.

Hamilton Cain, Star Tribune

A powerful, illuminating and heartfelt account of how hierarchy reproduces itself, as well as a call to action for the difficult work of undoing it.

Kenneth W. Mack, Washington Post

Surprising and arresting... Like a prayer for a country in pain, offering new directions through prophetic new language

Bilal Qureshi, Washington Post

Magnificent . . . a trailblazing work on the birth of inequality . . . Caste offers a forward-facing vision. Bursting with insight and love, this book may well help save us

O: The Oprah Magazine

Caste makes a convincing, often scorching case that caste was there at the birth of the nation, and we wrestle every day with that legacy. It upsets the already rickety national myth that anyone in the United States can be anything -albeit, without entirely abandoning that hope

Christopher Borrelli, Chicago Tribune

Persuasive and unsettling ... The case Wilkerson puts forward is inspiring and hopeful ... caste can be dismantled, setting everyone free.

Ashish Ghadiali, Observer

Wilkerson's genius as a writer is her ability to tell you the big story of what happened, but to make that story matter by linking it to the lives of those who survived it ... What in the hands of another writer would feel like an abstraction attains, in her work, the vividness and emotional power of lived experience.

Ezra Klein, Vox

Isabel Wilkerson's Caste is probably the most important piece of non-fiction published this year.

Sarah Hughes, i News

Wonderful ... Prepare to have your mind expanded, your heart break and your head slowly shake by Wilkerson's sublime combination of skilful, analytical dissection and raw, emotional testimony

Allen Sleith, Belfast Telegraph

A consummate storyteller ... Isabel Wilkerson has written important book that reminds us of a comradeship of interwoven histories.

LA Review of Books

Wilkerson's book arrives at a key inflection point, an opening for us to imagine, and then create, a system that's better than the one we've inherited.


If you haven't read Caste yet, you absolutely must.

Edward Enninful, Vogue

Such is Wilkerson's gift as a writer that she leaves you looking at the world differently.

Afua Hirsch, Vogue

Powerful and timely ... I cannot recommend it strongly enough

Barack Obama

Caste will spur readers to think and to feel in equal measure

Kwame Anthony Appiah, New York Times Book Review

Caste forced me to rethink how deeply embedded our unexamined preconceptions are

Bill Clinton

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