I just finished reading the book, Cast: The Origins of Our Discontents, by Isabel Wilkerson, winner of a Pulitzer Prize and winner of a National Humanity Medal. I don’t usually read books on history or politics, But I read this book with a lot of respect and admiration for this very highly accomplished author and this very outstanding book. After turning the last page and putting the book down, not only was I proud of Isabel Wilkerson for writing such a valuable, brilliantly written book, but I also pat myself on the back for finishing the book with interest — all 496 pages of it.
By walking with the author through history, I now have a much clearer perspective about so many issues on race in America. She enlightens us all in a very factual, logical, and non-judgemental manner in which she describes human ranking and the cast system, using countries like Germany, India, and the United States as examples. This book is based on the author’s extensive research. At times, it could have felt a bit too long, but the many race-related stories she tells us make it all easier for me to digest this very serious, powerful, and masterfully written book.
What really impressed me while reading through the pages was that the author was not forcing her point of view on racial division and race in America, but she was simply referring to history with accurate dates and events, for us all to comprehend her point of argument more clearly. To further her point, the author goes on to explain in detail all the eight pillars of the cast system: divine will and the laws of nature; heritability, endogamy, and the control of marriage and mating; purity versus pollution; occupational hierarchy; dehumanization and stigma; terror as enforcement; cruelty as a means of control; inherent superiority versus inherent inferiority.
The final word on the idea of the cast the system is that we all, each one of us, have a responsibility to work towards making it more just and humanistic. Cast: The Origin of Our Discontents is one of the most important books of this decade. I am now looking forward to read Isabel Wilkerson’s other book, The Warmth of Other Suns.
About Isabel Wilkerson
Isabel Wilkerson is a journalist and author. Born in 1961, Wilkerson studied journalism at Howard University/ She is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, and is a leading figure in narrative nonfiction.
Her debut novel was the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller The Warmth of Other Suns, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction and was named to Time’s 10 Best Nonfiction Books of the 2010s and The New York Times’s list of the Best Nonfiction of All Time.
A native of Washington, D.C., and a daughter of the Great Migration, the mass movement that she would go on to write about. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 1994, as Chicago Bureau Chief of The New York Times, making her the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism. She then devoted fifteen years and interviewed more than 1,200 people to tell the story of the six million people, among them her parents, who defected from the Jim Crow South.
Wilkerson has taught at Princeton, Emory, and Boston Universities and has lectured at more than two hundred other colleges and universities across the United States and in Europe and Asia.