"This perspective, perhaps the most accurate of all, reveals the unspoken obvious: there cannot be a middle or upper class without a lower. There just can't. Somehow, we seem to have spent four centuries going to cruel and absurd lengths to avoid making direct eye contact with this. Racial differences have offered convenient grounds on which to compartmentalize people, but they clearly don't always do the trick. Invariably, class picks up the slack in the act.
"Isenberg puts it this way, 'Moved by the need for control, for an unchallenged top tier, the power elite in American history has thrived by placating the vulnerable and creating for them a false sense of identification—denying real class differences whenever possible.' She calls this deception 'dangerous' partly because 'the relative few who escape poverty are held up as models, as though everybody at the bottom has the same chance of succeeding through cleverness and hard work, through scrimping and saving.' The poor know differently."
John Collins in In These Times reviews Nancy Isenberg's White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America.
In The Atlantic, Alec MacGillis reviews Isenberg's book and also J. D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.
And Karin Kamp at Moyers & Company interviews Isenberg.