Read More... The New York Times bestseller A New York Times Notable and Critics’ Top Book of 2016 Longlisted for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction One of NPR's 10 Best Books Of 2016 Faced Tough Topics Head On NPR's Book Concierge Guide To 2016’s Great Reads San Francisco Chronicle's Best of 2016: 100 recommended books A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2016 Globe & Mail 100 Best of 2016
“Formidable and truth-dealing . . . necessary.”—The New York Times
“This eye-opening investigation into our country’s entrenched social hierarchy is acutely relevant.”—O Magazine
In her groundbreaking bestselling history of the class system in America, Nancy Isenberg upends history as we know it by taking on our comforting myths about equality and uncovering the crucial legacy of the ever-present, always embarrassing—if occasionally entertaining—poor white trash.
“When you turn an election into a three-ring circus, there’s always a chance that the dancing bear will win,” says Isenberg of the political climate surrounding Sarah Palin. And we recognize how right she is today. Yet the voters who boosted Trump all the way to the White House have been a permanent part of our American fabric, argues Isenberg.
The wretched and landless poor have existed from the time of the earliest British colonial settlement to today's hillbillies. 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.
Surveying political rhetoric and policy, popular literature and scientific theories over four hundred years, Isenberg upends assumptions about America’s supposedly class-free society––where liberty and hard work were meant to ensure real social mobility. Poor whites were central to the rise of the Republican Party in the early nineteenth 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–-a widely popular movement embraced by Theodore Roosevelt that targeted poor whites for sterilization. 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. Marginalized as a class, white trash have always been at or near the center of major political debates over the character of the American identity. 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.
Read More... In AD 793 Norse warriors struck the English isle of Lindisfarne and laid waste to it. Wave after wave of Norse ‘sea-wolves’ followed in search of plunder, land, or a glorious death in battle. Much of the British Isles fell before their swords, and the continental capitals of Paris and Aachen were sacked in turn. Turning east, they swept down the uncharted rivers of central Europe, captured Kiev and clashed with mighty Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire.
But there is more to the Viking story than brute force. They were makers of law - the term itself comes from an Old Norse word - and they introduced a novel form of trial by jury to England. They were also sophisticated merchants and explorers who settled Iceland, founded Dublin, and established a trading network that stretched from Baghdad to the coast of North America.
In The Sea Wolves, Lars Brownworth brings to life this extraordinary Norse world of epic poets, heroes, and travellers through the stories of the great Viking figures. Among others, Leif the Lucky who discovered a new world, Ragnar Lodbrok the scourge of France, Eric Bloodaxe who ruled in York, and the crafty Harald Hardrada illuminate the saga of the Viking age - a time which “has passed away, and grown dark under the cover of night”.