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« I'd Rather Teach Peace, by Colman McCarthy | Main | The Working Poor, by David Shipler »


Class Matters, by The New York Times

By an everyday book reader
March 1, 2007

Social class remains a powerful force in North American life, its effects more pronounced than most of us realize. From health to religious practice to college education to consumer goods, the differences that distinguish the top from the middle from the bottom remain stark, even as social mobility seems to have stagnated. A team of New York Times reporters has spent more than a year exploring the ways in which class defined as a combination of income, education, wealth, and occupation influences destiny in a society that likes to think of itself as a land of unbounded opportunity.

This book takes us on a tour of what they found and what it means for the future.

Class Matters
by The New York TimesBook Picture

Softcover: 288 pages
Times Books
August 2005
ISBN: 9780805080551, 0805080554

The New York Times team comprises Anthony DePalma, Timothy Egan, Geraldine Fabrikant, Laurie Goodstein, David Cay Johnston, Peter T. Kilborn, David D. Kirkpatrick, David Leonhardt, Tamar Lewin, Charles McGrath, Janny Scott, Jennifer Steinhauer, and Isabel Wilkerson. Bill Keller is the executive editor of The New York Times.

Class Matters also includes essays by Christopher Buckley, Diane McWhorter,
Richard Price, David Levering Lewis, and Linda Chavez, about their encounters with class when they were growing up.

"The topography of class in America has shifted over the past twenty years, blurring the lines between upper, middle and lower classes; some have argued that the concept of class is irrelevant in today's society.

"While the 14 pieces in this volume (all originally printed as part of a New York Times series) shed light on a different aspect of class, they all agree that it remains an important facet of contemporary American culture and draw their strength by examining class less through argument than through storytelling. The reader, by following three heart attack victims through very different recoveries, by witnessing the divergent immigrant experiences of a Greek diner owner and his Mexican line cook, by tracing the life path of an Appalachian foster child turned lawyer and a single welfare mother turned registered nurse, or by seeing the world from the perspective of the wife of a "relo" (a six-figure executive who relocates every few years to climb the corporate ladder), quickly realizes class is defined by much more than income.

"The collection has the power of a great documentary film: it captures the lives and ideas of its subjects in lively, articulate prose that, while grounded in statistics and research, remains engaging and readable throughout. The result is neither an attack on the rich nor a lecture to the poor, but a thoughtful consideration of class dynamics. Its empathetic take on this divisive subject and straightforward prose style will make the book of interest to a wide range of readers. Recommended." - review excerpted from the Publishers Weekly

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