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Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America's Heartland

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  544 ratings  ·  107 reviews
A physician reveals how right-wing backlash policies have mortal consequences -- even for the white voters they promise to help

Named one of the most anticipated books of 2019 by Esquire and the Boston Globe

In the era of Donald Trump, many lower- and middle-class white Americans are drawn to politicians who pledge to make their lives great again. But as Dying of Whiteness s
Hardcover, 341 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Basic Books
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4.22  · 
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 ·  544 ratings  ·  107 reviews

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Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Midway through this bleak book, I wanted to just laugh. I believe every word of his research (which he backs up quite well)--some people would rather collect the wages of whiteness even at the cost of their own life. This is the research answer to Dubois' observation years ago about the wages of whiteness.
Morgan Schulman
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’ve read over and over about how socialism is not popular in the US because working class Americans identify more with the idea of obtainable wealth than the idea of living in poverty, which they see is embodied by a degenerate “other”. This book really drives it home, when we example after example of poor white men dying young due to lack of access to healthcare who still decry the ACA as they identify more with rich white Republicans who tell them its liberals stealing from them to give to PO ...more
Florence Millo
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Why are we doing this to ourselves? Why do we continue to elect politicians who enact policies that make us poorer, sicker, less safe, and less educated? Although the book gives much attention to the fact that many people do this out of a misguided sense of rights and privileges, I still find it incredible that we have such a sense of wanting to be top dog that we elect people who are so vengeful toward those in the lower income groups. I also found it quite depressing that even when confronted ...more
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read. Metzl examines the implications of loose gun control laws, delaying expansion of federal medical programs, and reducing public school funding and how it hurts those white people who support it. Lots of interesting research, and he walks you through his methodology. Books on race and the far right are very popular now, but this one seems to stand out on a unique, and well executed, premise.
May 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
So I think the idea for this book is really important, and the author has hit upon a key dynamic at work in our country right now. The reason the book gets two stars is I believe the execution fell short. Some of the writing, especially in the gun reform section, needed significant editing for clarity. And I would have liked more significant explanations of any statistical significance in the tables explaining dropout rate changes in Kansas. I would have liked stronger citation support overall f ...more
Dan Connors
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-books
You can't hold a man down without staying down with him- Booker T. Washington

I loved this book! It takes a complicated issue like the decline of white power in America and throws tons of data at it in thee crystal clear sections.
As a resident of Missouri, I could identify with all three sections that I've seen happen all around me.
The first section covers the issue of gun laws and the state of Missouri. Using brutal statistics, the author shows how white identity and survival has become para
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Important Book

Metzl writes about Whites, mostly males who choose to vote for laws and elected officials who literally kill them rather than be put on the same pedestal as Welfare Queens, African-Americans, and Latinos. He covers Missouri for gun laws, Tennessee for healthcare and Kansas for government funding. He helped me understand the background of these beliefs. We need to do more to end this.
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is essential reading for anyone who is trying to understand why people vote the way they do. He has the numbers- the effects of conservative ideological policies on the people who vote for them. Racism is the original and enduring sin of this country. And it’s killing all of us.
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I thought this was very helpful in attempting to understand why lower income whites vote for people like Trump who create policies that hurt these very voters. Using the lenses of gun laws in Missouri, education funding in Kansas, and health care policies in Tennessee, Metzl shares interviews with voters who explain their reasoning along with statistics about how policy changes affected health outcomes. It's sobering to realize "working-class white Americans (will) put their own bodies on the li ...more
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Whenever I read anything, I keep post-its nearby – there might be a statement or passage here and there that I’ll want to think about or reference later. Usually, by the end of a reading, I’ll have placed a handful of post-its throughout a book.

But my copy of ‘Dying of Whiteness’ now has about 50 post-its inside. It’s really good (and important) stuff here. One could even say ‘urgent’.

Dr. Metzl – it appears – took on the research for this project just before The Thing in the White House became
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A remarkable book that looks at the way racist policies and a desperation to hold on to whiteness hurts lower/middle class conservative, white communities. The embrace of gun ownership as a symbol of white American power has led to higher percentages of gun suicides. The unwillingness to share privilege has hurt education and healthcare. Sicker, less educated, and more apt to vote for policies designed by greedy corporations that prey on people beholden to the myth of white supremacy.
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding. Well-documented, compassionate, yet INFURIATING. I still don’t understand how to communicate with people who, as Metzl writes, would literally rather die than participate in/support a system that benefits everyone—including them!
Mannie Liscum
May 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing book. Metzl uses the gun-culture of Missouri, the rejection of Medicare expansion in Tennessee, and the austerity politics of Brownback’s Kansas, to examine the societal and health impacts of major GOP policies; policies popular with the base because they target disproportionately the ‘other,’ but ultimately come home to roost on the porch of middle- and lower-class white GOP voters. Very balanced and evidence-driven book. Outstanding!!!!
I read Hillbilly Elegy, Strangers in Their Own Land and now this book. Each "explains" our current situation where people seem to be voting against their own interests. This one is the best. Looks at Missouri, Tennesee, and Kansas as, in many ways, beacons for gun control, health insurance reform and education and then the Tea Party/Trump strom hit. Each went from among the best to the worst. Meetings with support groups, citizens, and local politicians describe how guns, access to healthcare, a ...more
Jerry Wall
Apr 16, 2019 rated it liked it
This is about political groups that spreads guns, blocks health care, and defunds schools and convinces the poor populace that this is good for them. Author uses the states of Missouri (guns),
Tennessee (health), and Kansas as examples of how racial resentment is killing the heartland.

. . . people'sdeep defense mechanisms and projected insecurities can lead them to act in ways that seem at odds with their own longevity. p. 5
When white backlash policies became laws, as in cutting away health care
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was well researched, clearly written and very readable. Really gives insight into why people make the political choices they make, even when those choices end up hurting them. I am still shaking my head over a white guy in Tennessee who said he'd actually, literally rather DIE than let "Mexicans and welfare queens" have any money. Crazy, but here we are.
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Full of information that’ll make you scream. Timely af.
Apr 07, 2019 rated it liked it
The title caught my eye and I was curious to read after finding out the premise: a doctors travels across several states (and was born and raised in one he revisits) to learn more about how and what and why people (in this case, white people) to support and vote for policies that often have mortal and permanently lasting damage to themselves. Specifically looking at three US states (Missouri, Tennessee and Kansas) and particular policies (gun laws, the Affordable Care Act or ACA and education cu ...more
Chris Sosa
May 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Underwhelmed by this one. A serviceable and informative take for those unfamiliar with the subject, but 'Dying of Whiteness' doesn't add much new to the discourse about the toxic nature of white identity politics.
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
It did not change my opinion of the South, that's for sure!

It's nice to know that their attempts to oppress people of color are also hurting them. And to hate Sam Brownback so much only to get Kobach is hilarious. They do it to themselves and the rest of us get to enjoy the show
Paul Womack
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
A provocative case study of gun violence, diminished health care and devolution in educational attainment by analysing data from Missouri, Tennessee, and Kansas. His conclusions are challenging in that efforts to maintain a social system based on whiteness, as a political and economic system designed to maintain the illusion of privilege as a non-compromising social good, can work in ways that subvert the very “ideal” being protected. In all three cases studied, the policies of whiteness served ...more
Grace Heneks
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book made me so angry I wanted to scream. That white America would rather hold onto the wages of whiteness than its own health and well-being to the detriment of the entire country makes me sick. So many people Metzl interviews spout off such racist bullshit that has absolutely no bearing in reality because they’ve been told this by politicians. And they believe it. And these politicians just get richer and richer while the rest of us suffer.

This book is thoroughly researched and well writ
Lauren Davis
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book that explores how and why people vote for politicians and policies that are obviously against their own best interests. Gun control. Health care. Education...

I wish the people who make such dubious, racially-motivated, ill-informed decisions would read the book, rather than showing up and protesting at Metzl's book readings (as white-supremacy nuts recently did), but I fear they won't. So let's read it, talk about, publicize it. The information may leak out to those who need i
Stacy Bearse
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Why do citizens support policies that are detrimental to their self-interest? Jonathan Metzl believes that the politics of racial resentment partially explain the phenomenon. The author, a physician and professor of sociology and psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, bases his observations on interviews with dozens of citizens in three red states that have embraced far-right policies: Missouri, which quashed decades of sensible gun legislation; Tennessee, where voters chose legislators who fought ...more
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
Excellent book in detailing how policies cutting taxes and school budgets in Kansas, enacting free wheeling gun laws in Missouri, and refusing ACA funding in Tennessee have worked against minorities but have also hurt lower income caucasians extending to some degree to all state residents in the form of crumbling infrastructure, schools that aren't functioning well, and health facilities that are overburdened. It's an absorbing read and an important one, but I have doubts that it will reach all ...more
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Why do people keep voting against their own self interest? I’ve wondered this a thousand times. This excellent and well researched book somewhat depressingly went a long way toward answering that question.
M.E. Logan
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
A draining book explaining how people would rather die than share their privilege. And they are dying. A difficult book to read and to understand.
Sean Kinch
My review, “Self-Inflicted Wounds”:
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. Should be required reading for white americans especially. Metzl does a great job, a compassionate job, showing how ideas of whiteness and priviledge permeate so many policy decisions.

Truly well done.
Keith Grace
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the book a majority of white Americans is either unaware of or more likely revulsed by its title. But I cannot recommend it enough. The third part on the state of Kansas and what happened to its public schools could be its own book, but arrives perfectly after sections on Missouri and Tennessee. The most powerful/deeply saddening parts of this book are the interviews with white Americans from those states. Simply, in 2019 this book is the must-read for white America. Will we as a people ...more
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Professor and Director of the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University; a Psychiatrist; and the Research Director of The Safe Tennessee Project, a non-partisan, volunteer-based organization that is concerned with gun-related injuries and fatalities in America and in Tennessee.
“Trevor voiced a literal willingness to die for his place in this hierarchy, rather than participate in a system that might put him on the same plane as immigrants or racial minorities. 4” 1 likes
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