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Thread: The 2017 AW Reading Challenge! A "Pick 12" Choose Your Own Adventure

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  1. #11
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Arlington, VA
    It's great to see so many people rising to the challenge! This is exciting.

    I'm about 20% into White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg. That's actually about 40% of the reading material because almost half of the book is reference citations and the index. It has a great set up, but so far has been mostly reporting what various historical figures have said about class structure instead of about the characteristics of the classes themselves. I was expecting more facts and figures about class culture, but to be fair such facts and figures probably don't exist for the "waste people" (a term Isenberg borrows from history) the book is about. I'm only up to the early 1800s so perhaps this changes as we approach the modern age and the sociology of the times improve.

    I'm hoping Isenberg goes deeper into the subject of class values and culture. For example, impoverished whites don't have stereotypically large families simply because Oglethorpe, the founder of Georgia, thought they should so the colony could raise an army to defend against Spanish invasion from Florida or (after 1750) to suppress slave rebellions. There had to have been an existing culture of large families (for whatever reason) for him to exploit.

    I don't envy the author. She walks a fine line between collecting enough evidence to say something meaningful about an entire class of people and slipping into stereotyping. Perhaps that's why I feel like she's holding back a bit.

    This is an important topic to me, so sorry if I've gone on a bit
    Last edited by Chris P; 01-03-2017 at 04:48 PM.
    Join any time! The 2018 Reading Challenge is going on all year. Make this your best reading year ever!

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